RANDOLPH, NJ- The Music Den recently awarded its first student grant. Based on monies given on behalf of the Donald Hugh Smith Foundation, we were able to award the grant to Miss Payton Bailey attending Valley Road School in Stanhope NJ. Payton responded to the foundation offering from the Music Den website and submitted an essay.

Based on her humble response and through discussions with her mother, Nancy, we found that she shows a great respect for the opportunity to play the clarinet and to be a part of the school band. She loves her music classes and her teacher Ms. Milanda Marshall. Since the program is not offered during the school day, students must make a commitment outside of school attend rehearsals. Payton looks forward to rehearsal days after school.  With a warm appreciative personality, she showed huge gratitude for the free instrument rental for the school year.

About the foundation:

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Donald Hugh Smith was both successful in his career and in music.  Born in Minnesota, Mr. Smith resided in Morris Plains, NJ for many years. With a Bachelor’s from The University of Minnesota and a Masters from The Stevens Institute of Technology, Mr. Smith worked for 40 years with Bell Labs. In addition, he served in the U.S. Army during WWII.

His deep connection and love of music inspired him to learn to play the cello and become an active member of the Livingston Symphony Orchestra, serving as President and Trustee in 1991. He also played cello in a string quartet. He always spoke about how important it is to give every child the opportunity, no matter what their circumstances, the ability to learn, play and enjoy the art of music. His wish is to provide the gift of music to any children in need.

A person of deep emotion, limitless interest, and curiosity for people, Mr. Smith was a compassionate man towards others and the arts industry. He supported and was a member of NJPAC, frequently attending NJ Symphony rehearsals and concerts. He also supported and was a member of MOMA (Museum of Modern Art).

After he retired from Bell Labs, one of his many activities included working at Menzel’s Violins Music Store in Livingston. There he learned how to repair stringed instruments and even built his own violin. 

Donald’s children; Carolyn Smith, Lori Fernandez, late brother Mark Smith and Carolyn’s husband, Neil Fretague, started the Foundation on behalf of their father. They contacted Tom Scognamiglio, owner of The Music Den to further develop the foundation and provide musical support to the community.

With their help, The Music Den has been able to coordinate and offer this yearly grant to school aged children ages 8-17

“It is our hope”, said Angela Marcone, the Education Manager at The Music Den, “that we can expand the offerings to include music lessons, and perhaps even being able to provide students with an instrument to call their own. It’s a good start to giving back to the community. And I applaud Carolyn Smith, Lori Fernandez, and Neil Fretague for their efforts to establish such a foundation within the community. And we are honored that they chose The Music Den as the facilitator to give the gift of music.”

If you wish to donate to the foundation, please contact Neil Fretague at (862) 324-3137. Money will be forwarded to the Donald Hugh Smith fund account # 113296 at The Music Den.


Requirements for submitting a grant request:

The Donald Hugh Smith Foundation - The Music Den, Randolph, NJ

Grants offered for individual students who show a strong desire to advance their skills in Music.

Students ages 10 – 17, may apply to receive a grant funding the use of an instrument for a full school year.

To apply for a grant, please download the “Smith Foundation” Grant Application located on our website. www.TheMusicDen.com. (Go to the bottom of the page and select, Donald Hugh. Smith Foundation Grant. Documents are downloadable with instructions.)


Grant money is available to students who experience a hardship for renting a musical instrument required to participate in a school band. Applicant must provide a full-page essay describing their love for playing music.

Essays will be reviewed and awarded each school year.

About The Foundation

A full list of annual recipients will be available on the Music Den website

Business Contributions:

To view Mr. Smith’s obituary, please click the link below: