Funds to help buy new instruments cover operating costsAt the December 11th meeting of the Governing Board of the Newhall School District, Music Makers, a local PTA unit dedicated to the support of the vocal and instrumental music program in the district, will present a check to enhance and expand the program.
Last year the parent support group took the necessary steps to become an official unit of the California PTA. The district agreed to have the group ask parents for a voluntary fee for student participation in the vocal and instrumental music programs for K-6th grade students. Acting as a booster club, much like those that support high cost high school programs, the Music Makers collect the fee to donate funds back to the district to support enhancement and expansion of the program.
“Last year we agreed to expand the music program by a half of a teaching position to meet the needs of our students,” stated Steve Tannehill, president of the Newhall Board. “Music Makers believed they could help by contributing to part of the music program’s operational costs.”
Music Makers president Tami Hill will present the NSD Board with a check for $15,370 to offset music program costs and another $10,000 for Orff instruments. Orff instruments were developed in 1928 under the direction of composer, Carl Orff. The Orff instruments are tone bar instruments, glockenspiel, metallophone, and xylophone, which possess removable bars. This way the bars that are not being used are removed and the student has a great chance for success. The Orff philosophy is music education for the whole child and encourages creativity through the student’s natural response to rhythm, melody, and improvisation.
“We are pleased to be able to support the music program in Newhall with both our ‘parent power’ and cash,” said Tami Hill. “We are there to assist the teachers when they organize large concerts and auditions, and we are there to organize fund raisers. Parents see the great value of this program and they support it.”
District-sponsored wide scale music programs such as the one in Newhall School District are a rare thing in the days of the basic skills-driven accountability requirements of No Child Left Behind and ever-tightening school budgets. But Newhall is proud of its 25+ year program. The $450,000 per year program has expanded to meet the needs of the district’s population and has never suffered from cuts. Part of its success is directly attributable to parent support and the Music Makers PTA fee collection and donation enables the district to enhance and expand the program.
The vocal and instrumental music program reaches all students in the 7,000-student district in one way or another. Students of all grades are taught vocal music delivered by one teacher, learn to play the recorder in third grade, and have the opportunity to move on to a robust and vibrant instrumental music program in grades 4-6, led by five talented instructors. Currently, about 850 students receive small group lessons on a variety of string, wind, brass and percussion instruments and 650 participate in a chorus program.
The district is always willing to accept donations to meet the goal of enhancing and expanding the program. All cash donations are treated as gifts to the district, earmarked for the music program, and are tax deductible.