Indiana State University Newsroom

Running for music: ISU senior helps send elementary students to symphony

April 7, 2011

As Josh Bedford started the more than three-mile loop in Kennekuk Cove County Park near Danville, Ill., he knew he would be pushing his body for children in Vigo County.

During the next eight hours of that summer day, Bedford's feet carried him 48 ½ miles. He ran most of those as he participated in the Howl at the Moon ultramarathon.

"I walked a couple of loops," the Indiana State University senior admitted.

By running the ultramarathon, Bedford combined two of his passions - running and music. Bedford ran cross country and track for Indiana State after excelling in the sport at Terre Haute North High School. He also plays tuba in the School of Music where he is a music education major.

Bedford and his friend, Jeff Andrew, ran to raise money to aid music education in Terre Haute. They accepted donations of $1 per mile and raised $1,000.

"I wanted to start off to raise some money to give to the music program here in town," Bedford said. "The economy is having an impact on arts in school."

After a story ran in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star about their fundraising efforts, Bedford received an email from Anne Lynk, executive director of the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, telling about cuts to transportation funding to bring students to the annual symphony concert.

"It makes me so happy that somebody younger wants to help others learn about classical music. So few children have opportunities to learn about classical music," Lynk said. "They're like little sponges. They attend the concert and learn that real people sit on the stage and make beautiful music and that it doesn't just come from an iPod."

Bedford decided he wanted to help the students listen to the symphony. Due to Bedford and Andrew's fundraising, along with help from For the Love of Music Fund, Vigo County fourth grade students will attend the symphony performance on April 12 in Indiana State University's Tilson Auditorium. More than 2,000 students from schools across the Wabash Valley will attend the concert.

"In the community that we're in, it's very rare for children to go out to hear a symphony concert. They get to hear rock bands or country bands," Bedford said. "The symphony orchestra is a fine symphony here in town and there's no reason why they should have that taken away from them."

Nancy Cobb Lippens, director of the School of Music, said she and the other music faculty are proud of Bedford.

"Josh is highly regarded by our faculty and is truly an outstanding 2011 music graduate," she said. "He is not only impressive as a musician and student teacher, he also show his great love for service to mankind by the way he gives of himself to the university and local communities."

Bedford, who will graduate from ISU on May 7, said it is important for children to learn to express themselves through music.

"They need that time of their own personal expression," he said. "They're still trying to figure out who they are. It's shown that music is one of the great expressors that kids can use."

Whether he's playing classical music on the tuba or country music on the keyboard for The Scott Webster Band, Bedford understands the power of music.

"For me, music is that time where I get to get away from a lot of things," he said. "It's also a chance to show everyone who I am."

Bedford began playing the tuba in the sixth grade, but he acknowledges he only became serious about studying music in college. He enrolled at ISU as a pre-med major, but often found himself playing the keyboard. After speaking with his former band director, Tom McCarthy, about studying music education, Bedford changed his major.

"It wasn't going to class anymore," he said. "It was fun. I'm finding that in teaching too."

Josh Bedford, No. 4, running in track. Courtesy photo.

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, associate director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or