Stagelights receives $25K grant for music in the classrooms
Brookings’ middle and high school music students will soon have at least 40 new string instruments in hand because of a $25,000 grant awarded this week to Stagelights Musical Arts Community.
“That is fantastic news,” said John Webster, band teacher for both Azalea Middle School and Brookings-Harbor High School.
“Our string program was really hurting and this is going to make a big difference in the lives of so many children,” he said.
Stagelights, a Brookings-based non-profit that provides music education and outreach, will use the grant to purchase at 20 violins, 12 violas, 4 cellos and 4 double bass.
The money will also buy accessories such as strings, rosin, shoulders rests, and instructional material such as music books and sheet music. The instruments and supplies will become the property of the school district.
Webster, a member of Stagelights’ board of directors, was instrumental in getting the grant from the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF). The Portland-based philanthropic organization annually awards more than $60 million in grants and scholarships.
“John came to Stagelights with a detailed plan to put instruments in the hands of students, so we wrote the grant and hoped for the best,” said Stagelights chairman Scott Graves. “We’re just blown away that we received the grant.”
In September, a month after submitting the grant, OCF representative Jeff Geiger met with Webster and Graves at the middle school. Geiger witnessed Webster in action as he taught class.
“We were really impressed with what John was doing with the kids,” Geiger said. “It was obvious that he has a great program and we were more than happy to support it.”
Webster, who came out of retirement to teach music part time at Brookings schools, became a full-time band teacher for both the middle and high schools this year.
His fledgling string orchestra program at Azalea Middle School currently serves about 20 students. The existing instruments were in various stages of disrepair and only two of the students could afford to bring their own instruments to class.
“Music supplies are nearly non-existent, with only a handful of method books and minimal sheet music,” Webster said.
Lack of funding, and instruments, limited the growth of the program, especially at the high school, he said.
“Now, with this grant, we can strengthen music in the schools,” he said. “I’m grateful to the Oregon Community Foundation for their tremendous gift.”
Webster hopes the grant will show the school district and the community that Stagelights is dedicated to preserving music in the schools.
“Stagelights has done much over the years to facilitate music in the schools, but this is a big win for us,” he said.
The OCF grant is largest one awarded to Stagelights since it was formed in 2009. Over the years, the non-profit has brought professional musicians into the classrooms, conducted hand-drum workshop for young students and, with Webster’s help, implemented a recorder program for fourth-graders.
Last year, Stagelights donated $400 for the purchase of music software for the middle school to help students learn fundamental music concepts.
Oregon Community Foundation can found at http://www.oregoncf.org/.
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