Special Feature: Donor, Dusten Moore Provides Music Scholarships

Recently, a donor approached Music Doing Good and asked if he could sponsor several scholarships to cover the cost of private lessons and music workshops for young music students. This was a first for this outreach program. Dusten Moore is the angel in this story who has extended generous gifts that will enable six more students to continue studying music, in addition to the 100 scholarships we granted in the spring. We are in awe of Dusten’s generosity…AND his story. Please keep reading to hear a triumphant tale of someone who has turned pain into philanthropy!

“I grew up in a broken and somewhat musical family. My grandfather came to Texas to make it as a singer/songwriter in country music but ended up making it in business instead. In the early 80s when my parents met, times were fast and rock-n-roll was cool. My dad played keys in a few bands and as my mom started hanging around with him she began singing. However, as quick as something can bring people together it can tear them apart. I came in to the world the in the summer of ‘86. My parents were both still young and wanted to live their own lives.  Unfortunately, a child in the middle of it didn’t help the situation. As life would have it, they split up and officially divorced by the time I turned five years old. My father’s music career dwindled to a halt and my mom’s dream of being the next Stevie Nicks only went as far as open mic and karaoke night.

My interest in music began at a young age. I began “learning” the piano at about age 2. Unfortunately, by the time I was 7 years old some things in my life had changed. My relationship with my father was rocky at best. He was still trying to live his own life, which meant playing music with his friends, partying, and the occasional not-so-friendly bare knuckle boxing matches I was witness to. Looking back, I don’t fault him for much of what happened. However, at the time I associated music, or rather jam session parties, with a lot of bad experiences. My relationship with my mother wasn’t much better. I only saw her every other weekend.  Sometimes I would tag-a-long with her to the bar or hang out at my grandparents with my two uncles who were very close to my age. I knew she was still going out singing and partying. She was just being a normal 27 year-old.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck in the summer of ‘93. I dropped the lid of a BBQ pit on my left hand and severed my left middle finger in half right behind my finger nail. About 2 years later, I became interested in playing guitar, but it was short-lived because I soon found out my injured finger impeded my playing. Also, at this point in my life, music among my peers was very uncool and for “band geeks.”

Fast forward many years later to the age of 24. I saw Justin Timberlake do a live piano performance of one of his songs at Madison Square Garden. I thought wow, what could be cooler than JT?! So I happened to be at my dad’s some days later and saw the piano that I had played on 22 years prior, the same piano that I associated with a bad childhood. I sat down and banged on the keys trying to figure out how Justin Timberlake had done it so well. With the power of Google, I found a how-to video on the piano version of that same song, and I was hooked all over again. I felt the music in me again. The best thing was that with the piano my damaged finger wasn’t really a problem.

I bought a piano and started learning some covers, but mainly trying to write my own music, even though I had not one piano lesson to my name. Slowly, I figured out notes and chord shapes.  I liked piano, but for me it wasn’t as cool as playing guitar. My dad had an old junky electric guitar and an amp. I plugged it in one day and started strumming. I had no idea what I was doing, but I could make sounds on it and that gave me a little glimmer of hope. I learned some power chords and with distortion through the amp it sounded great. I thought hey, maybe I can be a guitar player.

For my college graduation present my uncle bought me a Yamaha acoustic guitar. I found I was able to make a few open chords, however my damaged finger was starting to rear its ugly head. For the next couple years I continued to struggle to the point of tears. I tried creating prosthetic finger tips to help but to no avail. I began using super glue to help make an artificial fingertip.  Later I learned the hard way that super glue is toxic and if you have enough topical skin contact for long periods of time it will essentially poison you.

I decided to look into surgical options. The surgeon said I could have the hang nail removed through a process called ablation, but it may or may not make things better. It was just as likely to make them worse but I decided to roll the dice. The recovery period was one of the most physically painful times of my life. After a couple of months, I began trying to play the guitar but it was incredibly painful to touch the strings. Then came one of the worst moments in my life. I was on a vacation and someone picked up a guitar and started playing. In this moment I thought I had made a horrible mistake with surgery and I would never be able to play again. My gamble didn’t work out. I walked out of the room and burst into tears and cried myself to sleep that night. Things could have been so much worse for me, but at this point music had filled my entire body. I wanted to be a musician.

Another month went by before I decided to try one last time. It was still painful but slightly less and then a little less. Maybe the surgery had worked and my finger just needed time. I’m 30 years old now and still have struggles with the finger at times, but I don’t feel pain. And I don’t blame my shortcomings in playing on my finger anymore. I now understand that it requires hours and hours of practice to be good at this craft. I’ve given all this information to explain why I took it upon myself to help kids who want to succeed in music, and more importantly in life.

As a kid I personally have endured financial hardships, a broken family, and even physical pain caused by wanting to play music. I have been in the same place a lot of these kids are in today. I turned my back on music when I should have reached out and pulled it closer into me. But I didn’t have anyone to help me, and that’s what I am trying to give to these kids. They are very talented and it would be such a shame for us as adults, as humans, to let them abandon the musical talent given to them because of circumstances beyond their control. Imagine for a moment that we have no Picasso or Mozart because they didn’t have the help they needed as children. The truth is, there are undoubtedly musical geniuses whose names we have never heard because they did not have the means to continue.

Constantly, the world misses out on gifts of art, music, science and engineering because the bright young minds that possess them get trampled on and darkened by what this world that we have created does to them. By personally donating to and raising money for Music Doing Good, I’m trying to turn the tides. It is a scientific fact that children involved in music have a better success rate in life. By helping our children succeed musically now we ensure a better world in the future. In business terms, the principal balance repayment are the musical gifts the kids give us. Interest payments will be made when these kids grow up to be successful because they had our help, and in turn, pay it forward to the next generation.  For me personally it is about the music. But even if you aren’t a musician, anyone with reason and consciousness can see that supporting these students is about so much more than music. Music is the tool that helps us create a better world.”