The Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation recently provided the Newhall School District with a challenge – raise $10,000 from parents and supporters who want to help the district purchase musical instruments and the foundation will match the public’s generosity with another $10,000. The district turned to its parents at winter music concerts, vendors and consultants, employees, and board members to raise funds. In just a few weeks a little over $8,000 was gathered to meet the challenge.
“Thanks to the great response from our parents and supporters we are very close to claiming the whole matching grant that has been offered to us,” said Brian Walters, president of the school district’s governing board. “We are looking for a few more donations, or a lot of small donations, to make it to the goal line and I know we can do it.”
All contributions to the district are tax deductible and donation forms can be found at the district website, www.newhallschooldistrict.net. Student instrument prices vary from approximately $200 each for violins, to about $230 for woodwinds and brass, to $450 cellos. With $10,000 in donations matched by the $10,000 challenge grant, approximately eighty new instruments can be purchased.
Newhall is one of the few elementary school districts with a classroom, choral, and orchestral music program that serves all students grades K-6. Students who want to continue their music in the district’s orchestra program can do so in grades 4-6. While many parents choose to own their instruments or rent an instrument, the district’s goal is to provide an instrument for every student who wants one so that everyone can play.
Music in NSD
Newhall’s third graders are taught basic note reading and learn to play the recorder as part of the district’s classroom music program. Students are then actively encouraged to join the instrumental music program as they move to 4th grade. For many this is the only opportunity they have or will ever have to be exposed to a musical instrument.
A team of three teachers serves all students in 4th through 6th grade instrumental music, providing small group lessons in string, wind, brass and percussion instruments. The instrumental music program currently serves about nine hundred (900) students. Two additional teachers deliver comprehensive general music instruction to all primary grades, upper grade vocal instruction, and recorder lessons at 3rd grade. Two concerts per year, performed for family, friends, students and staff, are highlight events that showcase students’ growing musical proficiency.
The District currently owns about 500 instruments and at any one time, about 450 are available for student use. Annually, because of preference for specific instruments, about 400 students are the beneficiaries of an instrument loan program from a District-owned stock of string, wind, brass and percussion instruments. Other students voluntarily rent or own their instruments.
Students from the Newhall School District move onto the William S. Hart High School District at seventh grade. The bands at Placerita and Ranch Pico junior highs are recognized statewide, due in large part because of the Newhall District students who choose to continue their musical experiences in their secondary schools.