Tuning up the sounds of success
A $25,000 grant for band programs in Vance County’s two middle schools is opening up new opportunities for students
The Tunes for Tots organization, a partner of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, awarded Eaton-Johnson and Henderson middle schools grants to improve the schools’ band programs and purchase new equipment.
Jason Pulley, Eaton-Johnson band director, said the organization is designed to help band programs in low-income areas.
Pulley said he was contacted by Tunes for Tots in February and by April he was told that Eaton-Johnson would likely receive around $25,000.
“When he contacted us in April, he told us they would try to give both schools $25,000,” Pulley said.
Pulley and Henderson Middle School band director Trevor Rorie compiled separate “wish lists” of the band equipment each school wanted to purchase through the grant.
By May, the lists were approved and both schools received $25,000 grants.
“We made orders around the end of May, the items shipped in June and arrived in July so we had it all in place before this school year started,” Pulley said. “The last few things arrived in early August and we got everything together.”
Eaton-Johnson used the grant to purchase a new piano lab with 20 pianos connected to an interface system that allows Pulley to communicate with the students through headsets.
“I can click on their keyboard and chat with them through headsets,” Pulley said. “I can set it so they can hear only themselves, or each other or everyone together.”
The piano class is a new addition to Eaton-Johnson this year and is being offered to multiple grade levels.
At Eaton-Johnson, seventh- and eighth-grade students can take band class and participate in the pep band, which performs at athletic events and rallies.
Pulley purchased additional instruments, such as flutes, clarinets, saxophones and piccolos, for the band, and beginner woodwind and brasswind classes offered to sixth-graders.
He said the funding for new equipment has encouraged more students to participate in music classes because the program has more instruments available for them to practice with at home.
“Its helping students who can’t afford to buy or rent instruments on their own,” he said.
Rorie said his school purchased a new tuba, baritone saxophone, bass trombone, bass clarinet and sousaphone for his band classes.
He also received a new public address system for the school’s jazz band and five Apple computers for a new music-learning lab through the grant funding.
With the new equipment, Rorie said he can record the school’s four to six annual concerts.
“It has helped us a lot,” Rorie said of the funding. “We are going to do a lot more and sound a lot better.”
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