By ADRANISHA STEPHENS
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — In partnership with The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation took it’s fall tour to West Virginia Thursday, awarding seven middle schools across Berkeley and Jefferson County with matching grants. Each school received about $35,000 worth of musical equipment.
The equipment consisted of eight flutes, 11 clarinets, six trumpets, four trombones, three alto saxophones, a concert percussion line and music books.
Both organizations work together to support arts education in West Virginia public schools by providing musical instruments to pre-K to eighth grade schools.
VH1’s Save the Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring music programs in America’s public schools and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education.
ChiHo Feindler, senior director of programs and policy for VH1 Save The Music, was there to deliver this year’s instruments.
“It brings joy to my heart to see how much they appreciate the instruments, because we at VH1 know how important music in schools really is,” Feindler said. “We worked with some strong leaders in West Virginia to make this happen, and our job is to just continue and make sure schools have the music equipment they need.”
Since 1997, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided $52 million in new musical instruments to 1,964 public schools in 233 school districts nationwide– impacting the lives of more than 2.6 million children, Feindler said.
According to Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the Division of Culture and History, budget cuts have made it challenging for music programs to maintain the instrument inventory needed for students to participate in music and band programs.
“I have been raising money for this program since 2009, and I continually do this for the community because music really is so important,” Reid-Smith said. “Having the arts in schools can help students in other subjects like math and science. It is just so important to give these kids an opportunity to be a part of something and to also be responsible. To be in band or choir, you still have to maintain your grades, so there’s that component as well.”
Noah Lizer, band director at Martinsburg South Middle, said this is a great opportunity for students.
“I currently have around 180 students in the band, and I most enjoy their enthusiasm for the instruments and of course the music,” Lizer said. “Now that we have new equipment, the kids are really excited to practice. Funding for equipment is challenging, and our old equipment definitely wore out over time. So, this really allows the kids a chance to take home new equipment, practice with it, and have some responsibly caring for it, which I think is great for them to learn. I just want to say thank you to everyone involved in making this happen for our school.”
Reid-Smith and Feindler also visited Wildwood Middle School in Jefferson County, among other schools, to formally present the grant to principal Patricia Brockway for the school band program.
James Craig Lee, Wildwood Middle School band director, said he was also thankful for the new equipment.
“I am just so happy with the communities continued support for the arts,”Lee said. “Every year, when I go to state conferences and talk to other directors, I realize how blessed we are in Jefferson County and how much the arts are present here, it’s wonderful. Thank you to everyone involved that made this grant happen.”
Other schools that received new musical equipment were,
–Hedgesville Middle School
–Martinsburg North Middle School
–Musselman Middle School
–Charles Town Middle School
–Harpers Ferry Middle School
To learn more about VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, visit vhsavethemusic.org.
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