Music Festival awards grants to area schools | VailDaily.com

Music Festival awards grants to area schools

Staff Report

Facing the challenge of public school budget cuts, programs in music and the performing arts have suffered drastic reductions.

In its mission to foster the growth of music education and to provide opportunities to explore diverse musical endeavors, the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival “Music Matters” Education Program provides funding and other resources to enhance music education in area schools.

“Cultural literacy is an important component of a well-rounded education. Through its education outreach, the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival tries to inspire children to begin a life-long love affair with music,” says Liz Campbell, Bravo! education coordinator.

This year, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival has chosen Gypsum Elementary School, Eagle Valley Middle School and Meadow Mountain Elementary School, as well as Pitts Elementary School in Leadville, as the 2003/2004 award recipients.

Bravo! is funding an after-school violin program in Gypsum. Beginning in January, Cindy Allard will host an after-school Suzuki violin program at Gypsum Elementary School. The money will be used to purchase violins and Suzuki sheet music and to help pay instructors.

Allard hopes to offer the program to first, second and third graders who have demonstrated a high level of interest in music.

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“Most of the students I am targeting would not have the opportunity or the finances to pursue private music lessons and there are no group lessons currently available,” Allard says.

Allard is a counselor at Gypsum Elementary and has a minor in music from Ohio University. She has been playing violin for 37 years and has performed with Symphony in the Valley.

She says she envisions the after-school program as an avenue to enhance self-esteem, social interaction, discipline, creativity and academic growth.

As part of the Festival’s 2003/2004 grants, Eagle Valley Middle School will also receive financial support for the purchase of percussion supplies and music stands. The school has experienced phenomenal growth in its music program under the instruction of Tommy Dodge, the school music teacher and athletic director from Newfoundland, Canada.

Eagle Valley Middle School Principal Jerry Santoro says, “Tommy is a visiting international faculty member with a great deal of enthusiasm and he is able to share that with the students.”

Dodge’s popularity with the students is apparent in the number of students enrolled in his classes. Of the school’s 280 students, 110 are involved in music.

Dodge says he is passionate about music and believes that music in an important part of children’s education.

“Music is the universal language and music appreciation is something that will last a lifetime,” he says. “The kids are learning in a fun environment and the rewards are unreal.”

After receiving a Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival grant in 2002/2003 for the purchase of two xylophones, Meadow Mountain Elementary School will continue to expand its collection of instruments with a 2003/2004 grant to purchase sand blocks and rhythm sticks.

“The sticks and blocks that are in the school now are dangerous, and students end up with splinters,” says music teacher Jeanne Nelson.

These instruments are used to reinforce rhythm, steady beat and syncopation concepts.

An important aspect of Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival’s education mission is to bring music education into local classrooms and to bring instruments into the hands of students, Campbell says.

Partnerships with music enthusiasts like Crum, Allard, Dodge and Nelson are critical to the Festival’s realization of this mission, Campbell says.