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Challenge grant to help group with goal of 100 used instruments for sixth-graders this fall

by: BEAVERTON FRIENDS OF MUSIC: JENNIFER MOHR - A Barnes Elementary School ensemble performs at the launch celebration for Beaverton Band Together, a new instrument donation program designed to benefit Beaverton School District students who want to perform in school band but cant afford instruments.For the project that earned her a Girl Scout Gold Award, Elizabeth Bryan created a network that led to about 40 musical instruments being donated to Beaverton School District band programs.

Although she completed her project in February, the Sunset High School junior has no intention of slowing her support as the Beaverton Band Together organization pursues its larger goal of securing 100 used instruments and the funds to repair and maintain them by this fall.

“Now it’s just bigger,” she said of the Beaverton Education Foundation-sponsored mission. “One of the things about the Girl Scout Gold Award is they want you to continue. It’s not just a one-time thing like when you do an Eagle Scout project. Where you build a bench, and then you’re done.”

The volunteers and supporters of Beaverton Band Together are far from done. In fact, the movement — currently geared toward helping sixth-grade students who can’t afford to rent or purchase band instruments — continues to build steam. On Tuesday, the Sandy-based Starseed Foundation issued a two-phase $7,000 challenge grant to Band Together to fuel the instrument repair, cleaning and maintenance fund.

Kristine Baggett, executive director of the Beaverton Education Foundation, said the grant — in which Starseed will match $2,500 in donations followed by $1,000 and $3,500 challenges — demonstrates the awareness the Band Together organization is BEAVERTON FRIENDS OF MUSIC: JENNIFER MOHR - Beaverton Friends of Music co-founder Carolyn Talarr served as master of ceremonies at the launch celebration for the Beaverton Band Together program.

“I’m certain our community can come up with $2,500 pretty quickly,” she said. “The important part about the music instrument program is it lets all the pieces of the community demonstrate how valuable music is. You can literally put an instrument in the hands of a child.”

In addition to monetary donations, the group is accepting community donations of flutes, clarinets, trumpets and trombones in any condition at the following locations:

n Beaverton Music — 12630 S.W. First Street; 503-643-5431;

n Aloha Music — 18639 S.W. Tualatin Valley Highway, Aloha; 503-591-8258; and

n Tigard Music — 11579 Pacific Highway, Tigard; 503-620-2844.

Bulkier instruments such as pianos and organs may be donated through special arrangements, Baggett said, noting that all instrument and cash donations are tax deductible.

Laurel Bookhardt, chairwoman of the Beaverton district Music Task Force’s materials subcommittee, said the program is essential to meeting the needs of district students and creating the learning opportunities band programs provide.

“A lot of students cannot be in the band because they can’t afford to rent or purchase instruments,” she observed. “The program is trying to overcome those barriers ... This is one of those value-added programs that is not going to cost the district a penny. It’s a collaborative effort of the Beaverton Friends of Music and the Beaverton Education Foundation — and inspired by the work of Elizabeth (Bryan).”

The Music Task Force, which submitted its final report to the district’s Board of Directors last week, is supported by Beaverton Friends of Music, a volunteer community organization formed to advocate for music education as severe budget cuts slashed music instructor funding and class time across the district. The foundation, task force and Beaverton Education Foundation played roles in restoring 17 elementary school music teachers for two 45-minute sessions each week in the 2014-15 school year.

“That’s the national minimum standard,” Bookhardt noted. “We’ll see the biggest effect of the Task Force next year at the elementary level.”

The budget also provides for the appointment of a district music supervisor position, on a Teacher on Special Assignment designation, for the first time since the early 1990s.

“The position disappeared,” Bookhardt said, noting interviews are in progress to fill the new position. “It’s been about 20 years since we’ve had a supervisor in the district.”

Michael Schlabach, Meadow Park Middle School music instructor and a teacher representative with the Music Task Force, accepts the positive changes with measured optimism.

“We know when you build something, you have to build from the base — elementary and middle school and eventually working its way to high schools,” he said. “It’s a building process from the ground up. It’s a long, slow process. It’s not a band aid. This is designed to build the music program forward.”

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