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Pulling Strings To 'Save Music'

The Early Show, Tom Hamilton
CBS/The Early Show
Starting June 9, The Early Show joined forces again with the VH1 Save The Music Foundation for "Save The Music" week, a nationwide instrument drive to keep music education programs in schools.

Legendary Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton visited The Early Show June 2, to help kick off "Save the Music's" celebrity instrument auction. He is donating his guitar, a prototype Parker Bass, of which only two exist.

Hamilton says, "I got interested in them because they're right outside of Boston, and so, 'You make a bass?' They said, 'We're just about to. We'll give you a prototype to use on the road.' So I used this for the last six or seven months of our last tour. Used it every night for about half the show."

The guitar is signed by the entire band and will be auctioned off, along with other celebrity instruments, on e-Bay. Hamilton does not know what the starting bid will be, but notes his guitar is "very rare. There's only one that's signed by everybody in the band. So pump it up there." Proceeds will go to "Save the Music."

Why The Need

Recent budget cuts have put many music education programs at risk. From Providence to Portland communities have reduced or eliminated public school music programs. This is occurring in spite of the growing body of research that documents the many benefits that music education provides our children. And there is overwhelming public support to provide music education in our schools. An astounding 95 percent of Americans believe that music is a key component in a child's well-rounded education. (Source: 2003 Gallup Survey)

What You Can Do

If you want to help keep music in your local schools, here's what you can do:

Donate an instrument - If you live in New York City, bring your instrument to The Early Show Plaza at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, but there also are drop-off locations all around the country.

Bid on great stuff - Go to eBay where celebrities have donated various items. All proceeds go to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.

Donate Money – Go to vh1savethemusic.com a make a cash contribution. Donations will be used to purchase new instruments to restore public school music programs.

Support your local programs – Help support public school music programs in your community visit the VH1 Save The Music Web site for tools and materials or go to supportmusic.com.

The VH1 Save The Music Foundation purchases new musical instruments to restore music education programs that have been cut because of budget reductions in the past or to save programs at risk of elimination due to lack of instruments. Since it's inception, Save The Music has restored music programs in more than 1000 schools benefiting half a million children across the country.

The Foundation also conducts awareness campaigns, musical instrument drives and fundraising events. Each year, an auction is held on eBay for "Save the Music." This year's will begin on Monday, June 9.

During the week of June 9, The Early Show will highlight artists and organizations that support the work of Save The Music. Special performances will be featured each day. Special Guests include: Mariah Carey, Uncle Kracker, Monica, Jimmy Jam, Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band and Heather Headley

Hamilton says "Save The Music" is something he identifies with.

"I remember when I was starting out and wanting to learn about the technical side of music and how to play an instrument, I kind of had to guess and do it on my own. We didn't really have -- I came from a school that couldn't afford a good music program.

"So when I hear about kids in schools that have really good music programs, I feel this envy and excitement, because there's a lot of kids who have a lot of musical talent that may never otherwise come out in the forefront unless they have a chance to really explore it," Hamilton says.

Music education programs have eroded in many cities and communities across the country over the past 30 years. Save The Music is dedicated to turning back this trend to ensure all children have access to a quality education that includes music.

As for Hamilton, he has been with Aeromsith for about 32 years. Currently the band is working on a new blues album.

"We're big fans of the blues," Hamilton says. "We always wanted to do a project like this. We're going back in time and picking blues classics from the '30s, '40s, '60s. This is a fun thing for us."

But the album will not be pure blues. "On every song there is a hard rock twist. No matter how hard we try, we just can't help it," Hamilton says with laughter.

Aerosmith is also touring with KISS this August. Though their styles are different, Hamilton points out that both bands come from similar backgrounds. "As a matter of fact, when both bands were infants back in the 70s, we performed shows together in the Detroit area," he says.