One downside to the coronavirus pandemic is that it's put a crimp in music education in schools. But Megadeth's David Ellefson is doing his part to help out, and he's called in a few friends to assist him. Ellefson has launched the "School's Out" initiative, providing free music lessons and one-on-one mentoring sessions, done via videoconferencing.

The initiative is backed by the Grammy Music Education Coalition as well as the David Ellefson Youth Music Foundation. Ellefson has lined up a pretty impressive list of guests providing lessons, including his Megadeth bandmates Dirk Verbeuren and Kiko Loureiro.

Others joining in with video lessons include Anthrax's Frank Bello, Alice Cooper's Nita Strauss and Jimmy Degrasso, Sons of Apollo's Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, Five Finger Death Punch's Chris Kael, Black Star Riders' Chad Szeliga, Echoes of Reckoning's Phil Demmel, Sacred Reich's Dave McClain, Sevendust's Clint Lowery, Bleeding Through's Brandan Schieppatti, Ellefson's Thom Hazaert, Doll Skin's Alex Snowden and Sydney Dolezal, Suicidal Tendencies' Ra Diaz, Soulfly's Marc Rizzo, Michael Jackson's ONE by Cirque Du Soleil's Shani Kimelman and XYZ's Terry Ilous among others still to be announced.

The DEYMF will also build a database of instructional videos, including playthroughs, lessons and more, that will be made available for free from the website. The Foundation has partnered with CISCO to implement their WEBEX platform, as well as Dolby to provide top notch sound, audio/video capture and streaming support.

The DEYMF has also partnered with GMEC to offer special “School's Out” sessions to partner school districts within the GMEC network, including Philadelphia and Nashville, with the GMEC providing additional promotional and logistical support.

“David (Ellefson) and I were brainstorming on ways to give back during the COVID epidemic and put some positivity out in a time of some pretty unparalleled crisis and uncertainty,” says DEYMF co-chair Thom Hazaert. "The mission of our foundation is to try and help keep music in schools, but what happens when kids can’t go to school? As I’m sitting home with my two restless kids, in basically forced exile, it kinda hit me.” He adds, “We started talking about David doing a few online lessons with kids, via the foundation, and then got around to the idea of recruiting some of our other friends as well. Then we talked to our friends at the GRAMMY Music Education Coalition, and it really took on a whole new life, and became a massive initiative.”

"When one person suffers, we all suffer, and this is an unprecedented moment in history when all of us around the world are united for a common cause,” says Ellefson. "Music and the arts have always been some of our greatest healers in a way none other can. As we reach into each other's souls with resounding hope, I'm forever thankful to our friends in the creative community who have kindly offered their expertise to put a smile on the faces of so many people in need right now. Let this be a time when we can all unite under the banner of Music and let our creativity lead the way.”

For those interested, video sessions are available for all high school students and younger. To participate, students must submit an application via the Ellefson Youth Music Foundation website. In addition, the DEYMF organization is raising funds for the "School's Out" initiative through a FundRazr campaign, which you can donate to at this location.

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