CARLSBAD, CA-Breaking down the barriers between music and sports, Olympic snowboarder Tricia Byrnes and professional snowboarder Ali Goulet have joined forces with the non-profit American Music Conference (AMC) to give more teenagers access to the fun and benefits of making their own music.

AMC will feature interviews with Byrnes and Goulet on their web resource for teens, www.themusicedge.com, a site solely devoted to giving teens access to making music. The site includes tips from professionals for aspiring musicians, a comprehensive guide on finding the right instrument to express themselves with, how to become a DJ, music-oriented bulletin boards and more.

Tricia became actively involved in making music at the age of 20, when she began playing the guitar, and later picked up the drums at 23. She learned guitar from a friend and fellow snowboarder on a rainy day at Mt. Hood, and has been playing ever since.

“Once you learn one instrument, you have a curiosity and drive to learn and understand them all,” says Tricia. “Playing music has increased my appreciation for the music I love to listen to and even appreciation for music that isn’t my style. Music gave me a chance to be creative and challenge myself in a different area and in a different art form.”

Tricia began skiing at the age of four when her parents bought a vacation home at Stratton Mountain. She skied until 1989 when she picked up one of her brother’s used snowboards, and hasn’t stopped since! She has captured first place at the 2002 World Cup in Sapporo, Japan, the 2001 World Cup in Olang, Italy, the 2001 U.S. Grand Prix at Okemo, VT, and placed sixth at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Growing up in Vermont, Ali was intrigued by the many DJs in the area and the ways in which they manipulated songs. He became actively involved in learning the art at 18, and his talent has helped him become a favorite DJ at industry functions.

“Music is a huge part of my every day,” says Ali. “Depending on my mood, music can mellow me out or get me pumped up. I listen to music when I’m at home, in my car, on my bike and hiking in the back country.”

Ali has enjoyed second place at the 2003 Red Bull Huckfest, sixth place in the 2003 U.S. Open Rail Contest, and won the Quarterpipe event at the 2000 AST at Mammoth. In a one-year period, he had seventeen photographs published, and graced the covers of some popular snowboarding magazines. Ali is a certified Audi driving instructor, and has been featured in numerous car publications. He is also an avid mountain biker and recently placed second in the short-track cross country race at the Norba event held at Mt. Snow, VT.

“With Tricia and Ali supporting AMC and themusicedge.com, we can further emphasize the positive connection between sports and music, which results in enhanced academic and social performance,” says AMC Executive Director Laura Johnson. “Everyone knows about the health benefits of being involved with sports. Tricia and Ali are helping to reinforce the message of themusicedge.com, which emphasizes to teens that it’s just as fun to exercise their minds with music! We’re creating an additional resource for teens to find out information about playing music-something more and more of them now don’t have access to because of music education budget cuts.”

The positive effects that music education and music making have on developing minds are better understood today than ever before. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 95 percent of Americans believe that music is a key component in a child’s well-rounded education. Active music making has been shown to correlate with better reading ability and math scores, and lower incidence of drug use and antisocial behavior among teenagers. Students who study music actually scored higher on the SAT. Students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbbal and 44 points higher on the math, versus students with no arts participation.

Unfortunately, despite Americans’ clear support for music education and participation, budget cuts and shifting priorities have placed those programs in more danger than ever. Already, up to 28 million American students do not receive an adequate music education, and cuts in education funding are either pending or have been enacted in more than half the states nationwide.

Visitors to themusicedge.com will also have the opportunity to enter into a number of contests. In the October contest, one Grand Prize winner will get to meet snowboarder Ali Goulet and Olympic snowboarder Tricia Byrnes at a major snowboarding event.

“In my professional career, music is the backbone,” says Tricia. “It is the driving current that motivates our lifestyle. Snowboarding and music are similar in that you can always continue to challenge yourself and grow.”

About AMC
Founded in 1947, AMC is a national non-profit educational association dedicated to promoting the importance of music, music-making and music education to the general public. For more information on the American Music Conference, go to www.amc-music.org.