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9:19 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

Wiederaenders: Give the gift of music to a local student

A taped up basoon, dented and broken French Horns, an old tuba that can't be repaired anymore and an oboe that's out for a second time being repaired are just some of the hurdles facing some of the 153 band students at Granite Mountain  School in Prescott Friday morning. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

A taped up basoon, dented and broken French Horns, an old tuba that can't be repaired anymore and an oboe that's out for a second time being repaired are just some of the hurdles facing some of the 153 band students at Granite Mountain School in Prescott Friday morning. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Music is in my soul, but most of the instruments were not my own.

I started in 1973 with piano lessons. That was short-lived, but a short time later I asked Mom and Dad if I could play an instrument in the school band. They relented and I took lessons every week for nearly 10 years. Ten years.

I started with alto saxophone, added the tenor and then baritone sax – each in a different school band (concert, marching and jazz). The lessons included sight-reading and pieces I practiced, as well as music theory. The practicing part was the hardest – getting me to do it, not the music – and I rose to be first chair (or always challenging for it) in the section.

In high school, I added French horn and mellophone (a straightened-out, marching version of that horn). I played those mostly by pitch – hearing something, then repeating it. I also picked up bass guitar in a rock band, made up of a group of friends; we called ourselves “Short Circuit.” Kind of fitting, as I look back.

The point is music and band were my thing growing up. I truly believe it taught me discipline, math, thinking and memory, multi-tasking (try marching and playing an instrument well at the same time), and good visualization.

Our marching band, at least at the time, was a perennial state champion. I was so involved I lettered in band six times. We were coached by the staff from a drum and bugle corps. However, practically all of the instruments for those bands were owned by the school. But, here in the Prescott area, as we highlighted on the front page of Friday’s Courier, some local schools are hurting.

Basically, they borrowed instruments from other schools so students could learn and play, and now they either have to give them back or the instruments are going with the students to the middle or high schools. Granite Mountain School is the prime example; in-coming students now will have nothing to play. Even many of the instruments they have are in need of serious repairs.

My point is, how many of you – from that past life of school-age music – have an instrument in your closet or hidden in storage? It is gathering dust and going nowhere. Instead of leaving it to waste or throwing it away, consider donating it to Granite so they can breathe new life into it.

This is the first in a series of stories about local causes that we believe deserve community support. If you are aware of a local cause, email editors@prescottaz.com; if you have an instrument in good condition (they cannot afford repairs) to donate, call 928-717-3253 or email luan.mueller@prescottschools.com.

Music may not seem like much; some schools have foregone music and the arts, mostly because of the current state of school funding (the lack of it) in Arizona. Think, though, how music teaches so much more and produces more than sound. Statistically, it also keeps kids in school – in this state that has the highest dropout rate in the nation.

What a gift you could give to a young student, a young person!

As for me, music still is with me, and I cannot imagine life without it.

Community Editor Tim Wiederaenders is the senior editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.

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