Danville Express

Newsfront - April 6, 2007

Sing a song for Rotary

Alamo club gives festival proceeds to school music programs

by Natalie O'Neill

For hundreds of students in Alamo and Danville, music is an inspirational creative outlet they can tap into through school. Unfortunately for schools, running a music program isn't cheap.

That's where the Alamo Rotary Club has come in to lend a hand. Six schools were presented $1,000 checks to contribute to music programs in Alamo and Danville last week at Round Hill Country Club. The funds were raised during the Alamo Music and Wine Festival in September.

"The world runs on money and so does music - it's very expensive," said Bruce Koliha, Monte Vista High School choir director.

Dedicated teachers and principals from San Ramon Valley High, Monte Vista High, Stone Valley Middle School, Rancho Romero Elementary, Lucille Mauzy School and Alamo Elementary gratefully accepted checks and spoke about the need for contributions.

Some teachers noted that keeping music alive and booming in public schools is one of the biggest budget challenges schools face today.

Ken Abrams, choir director for San Ramon Valley High School, said sheet music, which is copyrighted and can't be legally photocopied, must be purchased for each student. With copies going for nearly $2 per song, this can really add up over the course of a year, he said.

"Those are our textbooks and we don't have money for them," he said.

Abrams also noted that at a recent regional choir competition San Ramon Valley High took third place and Monte Vista High School took first.

"We've got two of the three best choirs in Northern California right here," he said.

Another instructor, who teaches music to special needs kids at Lucille Mauzy School in Alamo, said learning music brings incredible joy to her developmentally disabled students.

"It helps them learn to follow directions; they feel the instruments in their hands and hear the sounds," she said.

The Alamo Rotary Club hopes to raise even more money at the Music and Wine Festival this September, its 25th, where the Rotary Club's goal will be to collect $25,000.

"We want to raise more money so we can give you more money," said Rotary member and event chairman Bill Ferguson.

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