Jazz with benefits

High schooler organizes fundraisers to aid area music programs

Palisade High School sophomore Josh Anders



Colorado Public Radio collected 840 instruments during this year’s Instrument Drive, and it’s time for music teachers across the state to apply to receive these repaired and refurbished instruments.

Deadline to apply is May 31 at http://www.cpr.org.

The instruments, collected statewide in March, will be given away in the fall. Colorado Public Radio also is working with Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to match the donated instruments with deserving schools.

Colorado Public Radio distributed more than 1,400 instruments to more than 90 state schools during its three previous Instrument Drives.

Meet Josh Anders. He plays trumpet in the Palisade High School jazz band, and three years ago, determined to support District 51 instrumental music, organized an event essentially on his own to raise money for the programs.

He was an eighth-grader at Mount Garfield Middle School at the time.

“He just felt like he wanted to do something to ensure music was as viable in our schools for as long as he could,” said Scott Davis, band director at Mount Garfield Middle School.

Anders recruited the Mount Garfield Middle School and nearby Palisade High School jazz bands to play at the first Jazz for Education fundraiser, which brought in $1,600.

“I think he recognized that first year when he delivered the checks, how impactful this was,” said Palisade High School band director Jeff Mason.

So Anders organized Jazz for Education again in 2012. The event raised $3,300.

Now a sophomore at Palisade High School, Anders is ready for his third round of fundraising with Jazz for Education, which maintains its original purpose: to raise as much money as possible for area instrumental music programs.

And as a side benefit, fundraisers allow the 16-year-old to do something he more than enjoys. Anders loves jazz.

“You don’t perform sitting down,” he said. “It’s not confining. Not only that, it’s a different style of music. There are no boundaries.”

This year, two Jazz for Education concerts are planned. The first will be at 7 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Roper Music Ballroom, 136 N. Fifth St., featuring jazz bands from Grand Mesa Middle School, Orchard Mesa Middle School and Fruita Monument High School. The second will be at 7 p.m. Friday, May 10, at Palisade High School and will feature jazz bands from Palisade High School, Mount Garfield Middle School and Grand Junction High School. Each band will play jazz for about 20 minutes.

Minimum donation is $1. Roper Music donated the use of its ballroom to help.

Both Davis and Mason have used money raised at Jazz for Education to purchase sheet music because it is very expensive, Davis said.

Events such as Anders’ fundraisers give programs a much needed financial boost.

In recent years, music programs across the state have received less money as school districts have tightened their belts financially. District 51 is not an exception. In the past four years, funding for music programs (including vocal music) has decreased by 8 percent as the district has cut $30 million from its general fund, said Melissa DeVita, chief operations officer and chief financial officer with District 51.

Despite shrinking budgets, however, music programs in District 51 remain strong and will continue to be that way because “anything that keeps kids engaged we put value in,” DeVita said.

At the same time, “I think it’s wonderful for students to take ownership of their programs and to invest time and energy into growing them and promoting them,” DeVita said.


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