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Strategic "Can-Do" Collaborations Make Beautiful Music

OAKHURST – Two new programs will let middle school students explore their love of music through band.

One is free and the other is low cost. Both are the collaborative efforts of two school districts, devoted staff and a handful of passionate parents determined to expand the musical opportunities for kids in the mountain area.
The first program is free. After School “Music Zoo” is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays on May 21 & 23, May 28 & 30, and June 4 & 6 at Oak Creek Intermediate (OCI) school. Students are invited to learn the basics of music and find the instrument they want to play.

The second offering is an Introduction to Band Summer Music Camp, featuring affordable group lessons and ensemble performances. Band Camp is set for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, starting June 18-20, June 25-27, July 9-11, July 16-18, and July 23-25 in the Yosemite High School band room.

The cost for Introduction to Band Summer Music Camp is $15/week or $75 for 5 weeks and some scholarships are available.

More information and registration are forthcoming at parent/students meetings at Wasuma School on Tuesday, May 14 and at Oakhurst Elementary School on Wednesday, May 15. Both meetings start at 6:30 p.m. and will take one hour, according to parent volunteer and band-mom Stacey Montalto.

“The After School Music Zoo and Introduction to Band Summer Camp are open to any Bass Lake School District student who is currently in 5th, 6th or 7th grade,” says Montalto.

The goal is to prepare current 6th, 7th and 8th grade Bass Lake Unified School District (BLUSD) students to participate in next year’s Middle School Band elective class, scheduled for first-period. The class is integrated with Beginning Band at Yosemite High School (YHS), in the Yosemite Unified School District (YUSD).

“Bass Lake students are returned to their home schools of OCI and Wasuma by bus in time for their second period classes,” says Montalto. “Students who have played an instrument in the past are encouraged to return to the Middle School band program in preparation for the tremendous music program opportunities offered at YHS.”

Both programs are funded by Music in the Schools (MITS), a volunteer support organization that raised money for instrumental music programs when budget cuts forced the elimination of BLUSD’s part-time music instructor position.

“In the Music Zoo, students will have an opportunity to explore a variety of woodwind and brass instruments including flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, and trombone,” Montalto promises.

“In the Summer Band Camp, students will choose the instrument they want to learn. They will participate in small group lessons as well as ensemble performance instruction. Percussion instruction will not be offered but students who have completed two years of piano instruction can learn to play a mallet/keyboard instrument.”

Besides cooperation between school districts, the programs at OCI and YHS also benefit from the leadership of instructor Randy Hyatt. OCI Principal Nicole White says these kinds of collaborations are critical for maintaining a balanced education in a world of bad budget news.

“I am beating my drum about ‘Can-Do’ collaborative these days,” White enthuses. “Our students’ futures are dependent on people with a strategic common target simply saying ‘yes’ to challenges with no excuses. Kids need music. Music is a life skill. People should know that wonderful things are being done at the hands of Randy Hyatt and his incredible team.”

Contact Mr. Hyatt at 559 683-4667 or Mrs. White at 559 642-1570.

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