We had the good fortune of connecting with LaMar Queen and Jimmy Pascascio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi LaMar Queen and Jimmy Pascascio, what makes you happy? Why?
LaMar Queen (LQ): The thing that makes me happiest is knowing that we have a business that is creating a positive impact on students’ and teachers’ lives. It’s providing opportunities for everyone involved in the business, opportunities to support our respective families and we’re able to be role models to our families, friends, and students. We’re able to show people that you can build a business while working and you can build a business without having angel investors. I’m happy that we can show people you can do what you put your mind to if you don’t give up.
Jimmy Pascascio (JP): I always tell people I have one of the best jobs in the world. Overseeing the operations and logistics side of our business, my “work” takes place in the lead up to our concerts: securing contracts, scheduling dates, making travel arrangements, etc. Once we get to a school and the show starts, I have a front row seat and get to watch my partners do what they do. They use their talents as teachers and rappers to inspire, motivate, and educate young people and they are the absolute best at it. It gives me pure joy to watch them do their thing onstage and impact hundreds or thousands of young people on a daily basis.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
LQ – What sets me apart artistically is that I started doing music and teaching/tutoring at a young age. I started playing the piano at age 5 and tutoring other kids at age 10. I think that gave me a unique skillset as a musician and an educator. Those skills continued to develop my whole life and eventually led to me becoming a math teacher and ultimately an educational rapper. My pride has been the biggest challenge to overcome. I take pride in my work and my art, so being told by my students that I was boring during my first year of teaching was hard. But taking in this feedback led to me becoming a better teacher and becoming the artist I am today because it made me find creative ways to reach them. The students told me to rap, I did it, and that led to the creation of Music Notes.
JP – I tell LaMar this all the time, but I honestly feel that he is the best educational rapper in the world. With that as our foundation, the quality of our overall work is what sets us apart from others. On the educational side, teachers recognize the instructional value of our work. On the music side, students connect with the authenticity and quality of our work. LaMar and David are able to create songs that are appreciated by both our customers (teachers, parents, and other adults) and our audience (students). Finding this balance and ability to connect with both has not always been easy, but as a team, we value reflection and feedback. Iron sharpens iron and we constantly work together to improve the quality of our work by pushing each other to bring out the best in everyone on the team.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Many people played a role in helping Music Notes become what it is today, but three people in particular played important roles from the very early stages. No surprise that they are all teachers!
We would like to thank Martha Infante for supporting us from the very first song, before we even knew we had a business. Martha was a fellow teacher at LA Academy Middle School who shared our first video with the world, helped us get our first round of media coverage, and nominated LaMar for a prestigious award that led to him ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
We would like to thank Olga Maye for being our biggest fan. Traveling the country performing for students wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for Olga, who was the first person to reach out to us about hosting a concert at her school. Not only did she arrange the very first Music Notes concert, she’s continued to support our mission every step of the way.
Finally, we’d like to thank David “Mr. D” Landix. David was our first official Music Notes artist and we thank him for trusting us to lead his career as an educational artist. Music Notes would not have reached the same level of success or impacted as many students without David’s creativity and dedication.