Sweet music for North Tahoe school bands | SierraSun.com

Sweet music for North Tahoe school bands

Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun file photoCommunity groups are giving a combined $45,000 to the North Tahoe High and Middle School band programs to purchase enough instruments to fill a beginning band class. The instruments will be available to rent on a sliding-scale rate by any student who wants to participate in the music program.

Local community groups have committed a combined $45,000 toward purchasing new instruments for the North Tahoe Middle and High School music program.

The donations will eliminate a significant financial hurdle for students who wish to create music but cannot afford to buy their own musical instrument.

Using the money received from the Kiwanis Club of North Lake Tahoe’s annual Community Benefit Auction, the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation will give the schools a $25,000 grant to purchase beginner-level instruments to rent to students on a sliding-scale rate, making participation in the schools’ renowned band program affordable and equitable.

Following Excellence in Education’s initiative, Tahoe City’s Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club committed $10,000 to the “Band Accessible to Everyone” program, the Tahoe City Rotary Club will contribute $7,000 and the band program’s FAN club, made up of involved parents, said they would give between $3,000 to $5,000.

The combined donations are enough to purchase about 45 instruments.

“The whole idea behind this is to make sure that any student who wants to make music will have an instrument,” said Jenny Antonucci, who said she had the “light bulb” idea for the grant, but gave credit to the community for making it happen.

The band program will use the money to purchase an assortment of instruments, from flutes to tubas ” enough to equip an entire beginning band with the tools to produce a quality and balanced sound, said Dean Nordby, North Tahoe High School band director.

“I’m speechless,” Nordby said. “I wish I had the right words to say, ‘Thank you.’ … Giving every kid a chance to play is, I think, a wonderful opportunity.”

Antonucci, whose son recently picked up the trumpet in the sixth-grade beginning band program, said she recognized the need for affordable instruments at the annual October instrument rental night for the beginning students.

It’s not cheap to purchase an instrument for your child, Antonucci noted, especially when parents are unsure whether their children will develop a passion for music.

“[Purchasing an instrument] shouldn’t hold people back,” Antonucci said. “They have such an awesome program and everyone knows that.”

Middle School Band Director Shauna Gilberti said she’s seen the high price tag on instruments deter students from participating in the music program. Instruments often cost hundreds of dollars, Nordby said, with some costing more than $1,000, depending on their popularity and size.

“A lot of students just don’t sign up for band because they say their parents can’t afford it,” Gilberti said.

The band program has an existing rental program, but the available instruments are few in number and in poor condition, Nordby said. Some of the rentals were rescued from a trash bin 30 years ago.

The new instruments will give students something to be proud of, Nordby said.

“It’s kind of nice for a kid to open up a flashy new instrument and feel like they’re worthy of playing in the band,” he said.

Bob McClintock, Tahoe City business owner, approached the contributing community organizations in October to ask for support, and the groups committed to financial amounts by December ” a “remarkably short time” to secure funding, McClintock said.

“Once the story was told, everyone was very enthusiastic and I was able to get the funding lined up,” McClintock said. “We heard nothing but strong supportive comments, and obviously putting money behind those comments was the proof of the pudding.”

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