The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 18, 2013

VH1 ‘Saves the Music’ at local schools

By Brandi Underwood
Register-Herald Reporter

GLEN DANIEL — The vibrant sound of more than 100 new instruments sounded throughout the region Thursday during several school presentations, all part of the VH1 Save the Music Program.  

Representatives of the VH1 Save the Music Foundation kept the roads hot, bouncing from Trap Hill and Beckley-Stratton middle schools in Raleigh County, Summersville Middle School in Nicholas County and Summers Middle School in Summers County, to recognize each school for recently joining the ranks of 43 other schools in the state already sharing the distinction.  

Each school partaking in the VH1 Save the Music Program received 11 clarinets, eight flutes, six trumpets, four trombones, three alto saxophones, a bass drum and stand, one bell kit, one snare drum and stand, one set of bass drum mallets, one set of bell mallets, 16-inch hand cymbals and one set of cymbal straps and pads worth a total of more than $30,000, according to a press release distributed by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

At the Trap Hill presentation, Raleigh Schools Superintendent Jim Brown was overwhelmed with admiration for the Trap Hill Middle School band and choir members, who comprised a nearly equal ratio to the students cheering them on in the bleachers.  

“That tells me there’s great leadership here in the music program and choir program,” Brown said.

“What a great gift that you guys have,” Brown said to the band and choir, explaining that musical ability is a lifelong asset.

“Music enhances your life so much. Whatever form of fine arts you may decide to go into, you never get too old to enjoy it,” said Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh. “All of the gifts of the fine arts bring blessings to our lives and to all of those that you share it with.”

Brown said that while Beckley-Stratton’s band was small in number, it was mighty in sound. He challenged the student body to become more active in an organization, whether in band, choir, athletics or a vocational program.

“Whatever you’re doing, you need to be doing something,” Brown said, explaining that students who participate in extracurricular activities become more engaged in their academics as a result.

“Keep living the dream,” Brown told the Raleigh County students.

“We could not have done this collaboration in Raleigh County without the Beckley Area Foundation,” explained Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

“Giving leaves a legacy for those who follow,” said Sharon Lilly, program director of Beckley Area Foundation.

Lilly explained that Thursday’s presentation was the result of a very successful collaboration of many people.

“VH1 had the dream of awarding these (instruments), Commissioner Reid-Smith brought that to the community and we have individuals that stepped up to the plate,” Lilly said.

While the VH1 Save the Music Foundation provided $15,000 to each school, the school was responsible for coming up with $15,000 to fund the other half of the program. Lilly explained that the Beckley Area Foundation, The Carter Family Foundation and the Word funds at BAF were instrumental in making the Raleigh County effort successful.

After Park Middle School’s addition to the VH1 Save the Music Program next year, Raleigh County will be the first in the state with every middle school represented in the program.

In Summers County, the matching funds for the VH1 Save the Music Program were provided by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and Summers County Band Boosters.

Each school showcased its new instruments and talents during the presentations. Trap Hill seventh- and eighth-grade band members performed “America the Beautiful” and “Eye of the Tiger,” while the sixth-graders performed “Hot Cross Buns.”

The Beckley-Stratton Middle School Band played Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” and the Summers Middle School Band played “Accidentally In Love,” a Counting Crows song, as well as their school fight song.

Jennifer Buckland, Summers Middle School’s band director, said the new instruments have already “made a world of a difference” in her school’s music program.

“I had students sharing instruments who now have their own,” Buckland said. “It’s just wonderful.”

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com