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Danville Express

Column - April 25, 2008

Diablo Views: Alamo hits a high note for the schools

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Those Alamo Music and Wine Festivals aren't just for fun, you know. Besides providing an enjoyable day and evening for folks in Alamo, they raise money for music programs at the schools. The event, being held this year Sept. 6 - save that date! - is a great chance to see the school music programs in action as the kids take to the stage to perform. In the evening professional bands provide music. Plus there are games for the kiddies, a rock wall to climb, and great food - and wine.

Last week I joined Beth Burlingame and other Alamo Rotary members at their luncheon to present the proceeds from the 2007 Alamo Wine and Music Festival. The checks, given to the schools located in Alamo as well as the two high schools that draw from Alamo, were for $1,000 each; the money came with the best wishes of the entire community to show its support for the music programs.

Music at the schools has special meaning to me because my son Pepe plays the guitar and the piano, as does my husband Jim. Pepe was a star guitarist in the Monte Vista jazz band until we moved to Bangkok in the middle of his sophomore year.

Pepe also played in a local "garage band" named Full Moon with some other 15-year-olds. For awhile they called themselves the Greenhorns after drummer Chris Barron's teacher told him he was wasting his time playing with his friends because they were "a bunch of greenhorns." Jae Lee was the lead vocalist, John Pickett also played the guitar, and Jer Hainline was on bass. Luckily for our garage and, indeed our entire neighborhood, the Barrons have a wonderful big home in Bryan Ranch and graciously welcomed the boys to practice in the rec room over their garage. Both Pepe and Chris took lessons at Danville Music, and Pepe's teacher Mike Williams is still there.

Now that Pepe lives in Berlin, we don't get to enjoy his music so much although last time he was home for Christmas he and Jim had a Chopin Showdown to compete on who played the Nocturne No. 2 better. My daughter and I were the judges, and I won't say who won.

At the luncheon to accept their checks were Monte Vista Principal Becky Smith, Bruce Koliha (vocal music) and Ed Cloyd (instrumental); San Ramon Valley High School Principal Joe Ianora and Cheryl Yee Glass (instrumental); Stone Valley Middle School Principal Shaun McElroy and Ben Loomer (instrumental and vocal); Alamo Elementary Principal Beverly Tom and music teacher Nancy Raaum; Rancho Romero Elementary music teacher Christine Bertolero; and Mauzy School teacher Debbie Munoz. As they received the checks, many expressed pleasure at having money of their own for their programs. Several from the high schools mentioned the high cost of sheet music - $1-$3 per copy - and of course each member of the band or orchestra needs the score. Another teacher said that the donation was especially important after the state budget cuts.

I sat at the same table as Ben Loomer, who took over the Stone Valley program midyear. He talked about starting a music appreciation class and this sounds great - otherwise some students might never be exposed to classical music or other types that would be covered in the class.

I don't remember my parents listening to much music but I used to watch the Hit Parade in the '50s with my mother. My favorite song was "How Much is that Doggie in the Window?" Because I twirled the baton and was in parades, I was always partial to marching bands. Then I discovered American Bandstand and rock 'n' roll. My friends and I moved on to folk music in college, and one day at a beach near Santa Cruz, there was Jim, playing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" on his guitar. He has a minor in music and I've had the benefit of a music appreciation marriage.

But not every student is musical or will marry a musician, so I wish Ben luck with exposing middle school students to the wonders of music. And I'll see everyone at the Alamo Wine and Music Festival on Sept. 6.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.

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