Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 21, 2012

VH1 Save The Music puts area music curriculums back on high note

BLUEFIELD — Young musicians at two area schools now have band instruments that are so shiny and bright, they can see themselves in them.

Bluefield Middle School and Mount View Middle School in neighboring McDowell County are among the schools with music curriculums that are benefiting from the statewide VH1 Save The Music Foundation Program.

Now in its third year, the program plans to introduce musical instruments to 16 middle schools this fall. Sponsors throughout the state have contributed $450,000 to match the national VH1 Save The Music partnership program to secure $30,000 worth of instruments for each of the schools.

State and local dignitaries saw and heard the new instruments Thursday when they visited the practice field at Bluefield Middle School. Representatives of Mount View Middle School were not available Thursday.

“Our goal is to bring musical instruments to every elementary and middle school in the state that has a qualified music teacher,” said Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. “We are seeing success at schools where bands are growing as a result of additional instruments, and high school bands are excited about the increase in students who are moving up and joining the band. That renewed appreciation for music education is exactly what we hoped to inspire.”

Principal Jeff Matthews of BMS said earlier that the scene in the band room was like Christmas when the new instruments arrived this week.

“The kids went bananas when they saw all those new horns,” Matthews said. “The instruments were mostly brass – flutes, trumpets, saxophones – but also bells.”

Dr. Mary Woodbury, who leads the BMS music program, wrote the grant while Todd Browning was principal, Matthews said. Local contributors also helped raise the necessary money.

 The donation helps students who could not have afforded to buy instruments on their own, Woodbury said. Used instruments the donation is replacing will be used help introduce students at Bluefield Intermediate School to band music, giving them a head start before they reach middle school. A matching grant from the June Oblinger Shott Foundation helped fund the project.

“On behalf of June, she loved the children and loved supporting the schools, and we are pleased to make a grant in the amount of $15,000 for the new band instruments for Bluefield Middle School,” said Frank Wilkinson, the foundation’s president.

The mission of the VHI program is to “help restore and sustain music programs,” said Rob Davidson, director of programs and policy for VH1 Save The Music. Students who could not have played in a band because of their financial situation can now perform.

“This way, all kids can have access to the benefits of music education,” Davidson said.

Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, who attended Thursday’s presentation, said the arts and culture are very important to schools.

“We’re very grateful to the state and private donors,” he said.

The students were especially happy to have shiny new instruments in their hands. Dominique Adkins had just been playing on her new trumpet.

“I think it’s awesome!” she said. “I can see my face in it.”

Fellow band member Lamont Johnson appreciated his new trumpet, too. “It sounds beautiful,” he commented.

Andrew Caywood was learning the ways of a new saxophone. “It plays smoother than my old one,” he said.�

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