About the American Roots Music Festival


The American Roots Music Festival has the following objectives:

  • Raise money to support, enhance and enable K-12 music education programs in rural Oregon communities.
  • Provide enhanced educational opportunities for grades 1-12 music students.
  • Showcase styles of music that are part of our cultural heritage but that are underexposed in today’s mass media.
  • Develop an arts partnership between the public and private sectors.

Benefits of Music Education

The benefits of music education are well documented. One of the most comprehensive and compelling presentations of the scientific evidence is found in the 52-page report entitled Spin-Offs: The Extra-Musical Advantages of a Musical Education (Download 19MB Report), published in 1995 by researchers at the University of Arizona and Kent State University. Citing study after study, this report documents scientific evidence that music education has a positive impact on students in the following areas: reading skills, language skills, mathematic skills, creativity, self-esteem, social skills, perceptual motor skills, psychomotor development and reducing dropout rates.

Why A Music Festival?

A music festival is a natural way to bring together the community, music educators and music students, and professional musicians. Throughout this event, students have opportunities to learn from and interact with the guest artists. Some of these students will have opportunities to perform with these professional musicians which will have a life-long impact, along with increased confidence which benefits them in all areas of their life. The community has the opportunity to enjoy top talent in a local setting, and through ticket proceeds, place much needs funds back into the music education programs.

Non-Profit Sponsor Organization

The American Roots Music Festival is a sponsored project of the North Santiam Schools Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that works to improve the quality of, and increase support for, public education in the North Santiam School District.

Who Benefits?

The primary beneficiaries to-date of the Festival are the approx. 1,421 students in grades K-12 who participate in music education programs in the North Santiam School District. We anticipate student scholastic improvement (see The Positive Impact of Music Education ) and increased confidence due to the opportunity for student musicians to participate in public performances with professionals. Music instructors also benefit from increased funding for new/repaired equipment, additional supplies, and increased opportunities for their students (field trips, etc.).


Founding Concept: Pete Roth

Co-Founder and
Festival Director: Steve Gehlen

Logistics Director: Keith Butler

Marketing: David McGinnis

Performer Liaison and
Web Producer: Duane Nightingale

History of the American Roots Music Festival
Steve Gehlen, Co-Founder


Keeping The Beat - The Value of Music Education
John Doan, Professor, Willamette University


Keeping The Beat Foundation - Introduction