Students cash in for better band instruments

February 10, 2010 6:59:47 AM PST
Students from several local schools spent their afternoon at Jones Hall downtown. They were taking part in an amazing nationwide celebration of music education, starring Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx. And as cool as that was, there was an even cooler surprise that caught them all off-guard. Seated in Jones Hall, students from four area junior highs and high schools are part of a four city simulcast event, designed to bring a boost to their music rooms. Waltrip High School's jazz band had the honors of performing at the event. The national program is Future Stage and its mission is to help schools with devoted music programs get the tools they need.

Jeanie Reckart with Fidelity Investments explained, "They are in dire need of the instruments to help the children reach their full potential."

Reaching your full potential can be a struggle when students are playing on instruments used generations ago in their band program.

"There is a lot of instruments that are very poor in quality, instruments from the 70's that don't even play that well," said Waltrip High Senior Alan Gonzalez.

Waltrip High Senior Jacqueline De Leon added, "Right now we have some of our instruments being taped up with duct tape. It's pretty hard sometimes."

But today that changed as four local schools were each awarded a grant of $25,000 worth of instruments. One of Hollywood's hottest stars led the unveiling and talked about the opportunities music presented him. "It's a feeling, it's an expression that you can't explain," actor Jamie Foxx said. "I started out in classical piano, if you can believe that. I had a scholarship in classical piano."

We know how his career turned out. But when the curtains were drawn back, students got a peek at the brand new instruments on the way to their school.

"It's a dream come true," said Jacqueline. "This year we were trying to go to state and we fell a little bit short, since the rest of the schools have better instruments. So I'm hoping this will push us further get us to newer levels, stuff like that."

Besides the musical contribution, each school will get to experience performances at Jones Hall. In some cases students will actually get to write a score, then perform it at Jones Hall. The four schools recognized today were Waltrip High, Chavez High, Sterling High and Northshore Middle School.