Eastman New Venture ChallengeNew Venture Challenge Logo

Past Winners & Project Descriptions


Description of Contest

The Eastman New Venture Challenge is a contest to encourage new thinking and innovative ideas in music. It gives students the opportunity to develop a project proposal that could result in the launch of a new entrepreneurial initiative.

Entries may be from individuals or teams of up to three students. Entrants must create and present a project proposal that demonstrates creativity and potential for success. The proposals will be evaluated in a preliminary round by a panel of judges who are experts in the field. Two to four student entries will be invited to participate in the final round where each initiative will be evaluated on both the written proposal and an oral presentation. Successful entrants will have demonstrated creativity, innovation, uniqueness, and added value to the music field. Project Proposals will be returned to all entrants with comments and suggestions from the judges.



$500 Prize
Marissa Balonon-Rosen

Pianos for Peace

Youth, local artists, and community members will work together to paint the pianos peace themed. After a couple weeks, we will create a “Piano Park for Peace” by placing the pianos outdoors at the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence (South Plymouth Ave). There will be several events to bring the community together through music and peace- free piano lessons, yoga, lectures about non-violence, etc. The surviving pianos will then be donated to youth focused and non-violence focused organizations.

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$500 Prize
Regina Compton

Chamber Music Campania

Chamber Music Campania is a cross-disciplinary summer music festival in southern Italy. The festival invites a select group of fellows (both emerging professionals and exceptional students) to participate in a three-week exploration of music making. The fellows, working side-by-side with composers-in-residence and established Italian musicians, curate the musical and non-musical details of a weekly concert; this task entails pre-performance planning, the performance proper, and post-performance evaluation of the event.

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$500 Prize
William Paceley

Enharmonia Productions

Enharmonia creates elegant, educational and entertaining video content featuring classical ensembles from around the world. We then distribute all of our content online using unique web monetization models. These ensembles are incentivized to collaborate with us due to our unique production relationship. In order to keep additional costs as low as possible for ensembles while maximizing revenue gained via royalties, Enharmonia handles all aspects of video production--upfront costs, personnel, post-production, marketing, licensing and distribution.

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First Prize $2000
Emily Wozniak

Sound ExChange

Sound ExChange Website

YouTube Channel

Sound ExChange is a student-run organization at the Eastman School of Music that responds creatively to the following question: how can classical music thrive in contemporary culture? Sound ExChange explores alternative ways of presenting classical music with the hope of enhancing the traditional concert experience and engaging new audiences. We believe music is not only relevant to society; it is essential to our well-being. This ensemble is dedicated to exploring what the current generation of musicians can do to contribute to the vitality of classical music.

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Second Prize $500
Kelly Kasle

Harmony, Heal-It Health Music Cream

Professional musicians spend upwards of eight to ten hours a day playing including practicing, rehearsals and performances. Many musicians aren't able to prevent repetitive stress injury because their schedules lack time to take adequate breaks, the motions to play their instruments aren't natural to the human body and they don't feel it's necessary to see a physical therapist. Since musicians can't change their schedules or the nature of their instruments, using Music Cream provides an easy and effective solution to their repetitive stress injury. Harmony is a marketing company and website run by Kelly Kasle promoting Heal-It Health's Music Cream developed specifically for musicians. 

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First Prize $2000
Michael Hanley

Elementary Sound - (A new design for Orff-style barred percussion instruments)

"Elementary Sound has created an innovative new design for Orff-style barred percussion instruments.  This new design will not only enhance the music learning experience for teachers and students, it will also dramatically reduce cots and increase market availability." 

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Second Prize $750
Sungmin Shin

Plucker Music Co. - (A new classical guitar website—The Plucker Report)

"The Plucker Report is a blog dedicated to the classical guitar, its music, and personalities. It mainly features videos including concert and interview footage of renowned virtuosos to outstanding pedagogues and everything in between from around the world."

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Second Prize $500
Colin Gordon

A Study of Quarter Tones in Jazz - (A saxophone method book for mastery and application of quarter tones in jazz improvisation)

"The first time I heard jazz musicians playing music based on quarter tones I had no idea what was happening; all I knew is that there was something strikingly different about the tuning of the instruments and yet it still sounded good. Ever since then I have been on a quest to comprehend microtonal music in jazz. Over the last year I had worked so much on the topic that I realized I had enough information to literally make a book: Long tone exercises, scales and arpeggios to incorporate quarter tones into standard technical study, etudes, and several transcriptions. The idea to actually make a book had been in the back of my mind for several months, but when I first heard of the New Venture Challenge I thought it was the perfect time to make it a reality. Thanks to the funds rewarded from the NVC I can finally go about completing this book and providing a new source of material to all interested jazz musicians."



First Prize $2000
Jordan Hayes (B.M. Music Education and Violin Performance – '08)

Violin chin-rest - a new design

"As long as I can remember I've struggled to find a setup for my violin playing that satisfied both conceptions of healthy posture and natural violin technique. I discovered that a properly fitting chin rest is the most essential tool a violinist can obtain, yet chin rests options are sorely insufficient. My experimentation over the course of many years culminated in a trip to the junk yard, a couple days welding, grinding, cutting, and ultimately the production of a working prototype chin rest that allows complete customization. Thanks to the IML for the opportunity to make my idea reality and hopefully provide a much needed option for violinists and violists worldwide!"

*An article featuring Jordan was published in the Great Falls Tribune, available here. For more details about the Kréddle, visit www.kreddle.com.

*Jordan's Kickstarter.com funding campaign for his invention, the Kréddle - the adjustable violin chinrest, ended with success on January 14, 2013, raising nearly $25,000. The Strad published an article featuring Jordan and his Kréddle, available here.

*Photo credit Larry Beckner/Great Falls Tribune.

Second Prize (two awarded) $500
Fotina Naumenko (B.M. Vocal Performance – '10)

Russian Diction Online

"The idea of the workshop is to provide students with a basic understanding of reading, pronunciation and spelling in Russian. Russian diction resources for English-speaking singers are limited, so students need some basic groundwork that can serve as a basis for further, independent study. New technology would facilitate this independent study-style course for one semester of undergraduate or graduate study."

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Steve Danyew (M.M. Composition – '10) and Ashley Garofalo (M.M. Music Education – '10)
Why Music School? An informative website, blog and journal for perspective college students and parents.

"This dynamic, informative, and interactive website focused on presenting high school students and their families with accurate and relevant resources regarding the many benefits and advantages of a collegiate education in music."

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First Prize $2000
Rohan Krishnamurthy (M.A./PH.D Musicology/Ethnomusicology)

A New Design of the Ancient Mridangam

"My project deals with my recent reengineering of an ancient South Indian drum called the mridangam. My new design combines the traditional fastening system and aesthetic with a modern, nut-and-bolt system of tightening to make the drum more user-friendly and sturdy for practitioners worldwide. The Indian percussion industry is rapidly growing in the United States and I am confident my invention will be beneficial to musicians of various backgrounds."

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Second Prize (two awarded) $500,
Philip Borter (M.M. Cello Performance – '10)

Electronic Music Application Service (E-Maps)

"The project was envisioned as a way to simplify the college and music festival application process, by providing a unified online application."

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Beverly Cabezas Ferguson (B.A. – '09) & Aysedeniz Gokcin (B.M. Piano Performance – '09)
Music History Trip to London

"Rather than a typical music history class, in which students would sit and listen to lectures, read textbooks, and possibly see pictures of the locales and buildings described, this course would allow students to literally go where the history happened. This offers students important contextual and experiential perspectives on not only the music they study, but also on the cultures and physical spaces where this music was first created and performed."

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Second Prize (two awarded) $500
David Hart (M.M. – '06)

ESM Holiday Recording

Christopher Van Hof (M.M. Trombone Performance – '08)
Flying Dutchman Publications

"A website to assist a personal, hands-on arrangement for any ensemble, including a full set of printed parts, a bound score, and a MIDI recording included in the package."

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First Prize $2000
Ann Marie Wilcox (D.M.A. Voice Performance and Literature)

A Comprehensive Diction Course

Second Prize (two awarded) $500
Rey David Cortes (M.M. Music Performance – '08)

The ESM Music Group

"A non-profit organization incorporated within ESM connecting ESM musicians with the music market by creating and sponsoring products planned, produced and delivered."

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Samuel Krall (B.M. Vocal Performance – '10)
Concert Tuxedo

"Supplying ESM students with required formal wear at a reasonable price."

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First Prize $2000
Shirantha Beddage (D.M.A. Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media – '07)

Eastman Artist-Share Network

"My proposal was inspired by a desire to explore concepts of branding in music marketing. Eastman's brand is obviously strengthened by the quality and diversity of its faculty and students, who individually and collectively produce a wide variety of recorded music, compositions and pedagogical materials. The idea of an Eastman online store would further strengthen this brand by collating these products and distributing them in a centralized online source."

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