Saving the music

"Without music, life would be a mistake"

- Friedrich Nietzche

By Cory McConnell

Appeal Staff Writer

When elementary school students walk out of their last music class of the year in June, many will put down their instruments for good.

Although they don't have enough instruments for everybody, elementary schools stretch what they do have to get as many kids interested in music as possible, even if it's just for a rudimentary understanding of the art.

"We try to get kids to buy their own just because they can get expensive, with repairs and maintenance. But there are so many who can't afford it, so we try to provide what we can," said Bordewich-Bray Elementary School music teacher Alan Catron.

Middle schools and high schools can't go even that far. They provide the large items like drums and tubas, but most budding musicians must buy their own - or give it up.

"It really limits the number of kids who can stick with it," Catron said.

John Procaccini, the new executive director of the Brewery Arts Center, would like to see more Carson City kids get a longer, fuller chance to learn music. He is trying to team with cable music channel VH-1 and its national Save the Music program, an 8-year effort to stem the loss of the auditory arts from America's schools.

While educators tout music as the only subject shown to increase proficiency in seemingly unrelated fields such as math, science and English, it's generally relegated to the basement in terms of funding priorities.

Music programs in many cities around the United States have been steadily eroding for the past 30 years, according to VH1, and since 2000, some school districts have scrapped music along with athletics to meet stifling budget demands.

In Nevada schools, music programs have held fairly steady over the past few years, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kieth Rheault, but that's about it.

"I think (schools) have just barely been maintaining (music) because they're having to add remediation teachers," he said. "But generally when there's a budget crunch, that's the first place they have to look."

Save the Music's basic mission is to make music a part of the normal childhood by donating to hard-pressed programs and making instruments available to kids who can't afford them, which is what Procaccini would like to focus on.

The longtime music industry professional is looking for partners to develop the VH1 program in Carson City, ideally, partners who could promote Save the Music and help handle instruments.

He's already been in contact with the cable channel.

"VH1 has encouraged us to go through with this," he said.

Procaccini's plan is to accept donations of cash or instruments, have the instruments repaired and refurbished then hand them out to youth who can't afford their own.

The program will likely kick off in August, he said, during BAC's "Basically Basie" jazz festival.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.


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