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Old Music Instruments Could Boost Middle’s Minority Band Participation 3.22.2006

By Al Campbell

COURT HOUSE – That trumpet or clarinet languishing in the hall closet could be instrumental in getting more Middle Township minorities into band uniforms.
 Board of Education member George DeLollis hatched the idea during the March 16 monthly board meeting.
 “We need to engage minorities here,” he said.
 “A lot of kids go through the music program. When kids leave eighth or 12th grade, or drop out of the music program, instruments wind up in the attic, or they’re sold off at a yard sale,” DeLollis said.
 He told of a program, shown on a television show, which outlined how such instruments could be recycled.
 Many fine instruments purchased by families for pupil sons and daughters, who were tapped to make music on a flute, tuba, or trombone, repose in silence for antiquity after the last tune is played.
 Such pricey instruments could be resurrected and placed into the hands of less fortunate musicians whose families might not be able to pay the $300 to $500 that some instruments cost.
 DeLollis would like to explore a way within the district to approach students who are not going to continue in music to donate those instruments to the music program.
 Donors could realize a tax credit for their largesse, and untapped talent may find a means of expression.
 “Most instruments purchased are not professional level instruments, but they were paid for  by families,” he said.
 “They’re very playable instruments. Even if we came up with a dozen a year, that would help a lot of children,” he added.
 The district cherishes its achievements on the fields of musical competition. The high school’s Panther Marching Band has netted almost annual top-notch Atlantic Coast Tournament of Bands awards in Scranton, Pa.
 Such stellar awards have humble beginnings in Elementary No. 2, where third to fifth graders learn to play scales.
 Once the musical seeds are planted, they are further cultivated in the middle school, and finally blossom during four years in either the coveted marching band or other venues, such as jazz ensemble, symphonic band, and pit band.
 DeLollis’ idea sprang from an Equity Committee report, which focused on ways to increase minority participation in gifted and talented programs and in music.
 It also touched on having principals or vice principals attend college job fairs in an attempt to interest minority teachers with employment opportunities.
 Educators realize that musical interest and training often help students in many ways, including study habits, and time management.
 In an attic or closet, such instruments are “worth nothing,” said DeLollis.
 “How we do it, I don’t know. I do know that it’s a doable kind of thing,” he said.
 He said he would be “personally involved in it,” if such a program were to make music.
Contact Campbell at (609) 886-8600 Ext 28 or: al.c@cmcherald.com

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