From Napa Valley Register: Special grants boost music in public schools

September 1, 2013 12:30 PM  •  Isabelle Dills •

A total of $118,500 awarded countywide

Numerous schools throughout Napa Valley were recently awarded grant money to boost their music programs.

The funding was awarded through the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Ruth L. Terranella “Seventy-Six Trombones” Music Fund, which aims to enhance music education for Napa County public school children.

Schools and other local organizations that offer youth music programs were awarded $118,500. Grants, which ranged from $2,000 to $10,000, were used to purchase instruments, sheet music and equipment.

At Vintage High School, more than $9,000 in grant money will be used to purchase equipment for a keyboard lab.

The keyboard lab is designed to introduce beginning choir students to basic music literacy — students will learn to read and notate music, as well as compose and use basic harmony. The lab was started by Mark Teeters, the choir director at Vintage.

The majority of the funding for the Vintage music program is normally generated through fundraisers, principal Mike Pearson said. The Napa Valley Unified School District provides a full-time band and choir director, but the instruments, competitions and equipment must all be covered through fundraising, Pearson said.

In addition to Vintage High, other schools awarded grant money were American Canyon High School, American Canyon Middle School, Harvest Middle School, Napa Valley Language Academy, River School, Salvador Elementary School, Shearer Charter School, Stone Bridge School and Valley Oak High School.

Grants were also given to the Calistoga Joint Unified School District, Friends of Lincoln Theater, Napa Valley Unified Education Foundation, Napa High Band Boosters and Napa Valley Youth Symphony.

This was the first and only year in which distributions from the Ruth Terranella fund will be made, said Terence Mulligan, Napa Valley Community Foundation president. This year’s grants exhaust the bequest for music programs, he said.

Terranella was born in 1925 and died in 2010.

“She spent most of her life in Lodi, but lived for a time in Napa Valley, and remembered those years very fondly,” Mulligan said. “In her estate plan, she donated half of her assets to NVCF with instructions that her gift be used to support music education programs for children and youth in Napa Valley.”

Every organization that applied for the grants received funding.

“Music education does great things for kids,” Mulligan said. “In addition to being fun, and to helping young people gain self-confidence, research suggests that music education can help brain development and actually improve learning in areas beyond music.”

Both Shearer and Harvest Middle School will use their grants to purchase violins, violas, cellos, flutes, clarinets and trumpets.

Stephanie Hawks, the band and strings teacher at Shearer Charter School, said the grant will have a “huge impact” on the school’s music program.

“This grant has given us a way to provide an instrument to a student whose parents might not have had the means to obtain an instrument for their child,” Hawks said.

NVLA will be using a portion of the grant money to purchase much-needed instrument supplies.

Students at NVLA take three years of group violin lessons, according to principal Deb Wallace. In later grades, students have the option to keep playing violin or switch to a different instrument.

“With 400 kids playing violin, we go through strings and bows,” Wallace said.

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