VH1 and ECW team up to ‘Save the Music’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – Seventeen sixth- through eighth-grade students at Emily C. Watkins Elementary School will soon be a part of the school’s first ever band program, using instruments provided by VH1’s Save the Music Foundation.
Emily C. Watkins is the first St. John the Baptist Parish school to receive a grant from the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The foundation contributed approximately 30 instruments, including flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, a snare drum, bell kit and bass drum. The school had the option of choosing between several different instrument packages, such as band instruments, string instruments, keyboard or mariachi.
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District,” said Paul Cothran, vice president and executive director of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
The St. John the Baptist Parish School Board introduced Howard Gauley, the school’s new band director, during its regular meeting at the school in August. Participation in the Save the Music program required that the school district hire a music educator to utilize the new tools.
“The kids are really excited. My plan is to go along slowly with them,” said Gauley. “I think about building my band program like I’m building a house — right now I’m just laying the foundation. Once I get a good strong foundation laid I’ll start putting my walls and my ceiling up.”
In the first nine weeks of school, Gauley has focused most of his instruction on fundamentals and establishing good habits. The students have also worked on learning rhythm, placing notes on the musical staff and sound recognition. Gauley said he hopes to build up the band program in the future by using a comprehensive music program that would begin with kindergarten through second-graders learning songs through the use of creative motion and counting basic rhythms and third-through fifth-graders learning to play the recorder. All students would be exposed to various genres and composers.
“That way when they do get the instruments in their hands, they don’t have to worry about how to hold it, how to sit, what it’s supposed to sound like and what all is in front of them,” he said.
Students are still encouraged to have their own instruments that they can take home and practice with, but the school instruments will be available for students who do not have that option.  
The VH1 Save the Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education programs in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education. To date, VH1 Save the Music has provided more than $49.5 million in new musical instruments to 1,850 public schools in more than 192 school districts around the country, impacting the lives of more than 2.1 million children. For more information, visit www.vh1savethemusic.org.