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August 15, 2006 > Mt. Eden High School Instrumental Music Program

Mt. Eden High School Instrumental Music Program

by Nivedita Ramakrishnan

The Mt. Eden High School Instrumental Music Program in Hayward earned a rare distinction: they have been invited to participate in the National Invitational Band Festival of Gold to be held in Boston, Mass. in the spring of 2007. Mt Eden High is one of only 20 of the best music programs in the country selected for this honor.

Kevin Cato, director of bands at Mt. Eden High School, says the program's goal is to "encourage the young instrumental musicians of the school and to give students an opportunity to travel and perform globally." Mt. Eden's program has about 85 students ages 14 to 18.

Nine performing ensembles comprise Mt. Eden's program, along with a leadership committee. This allows students to pursue both music and leadership positions in the organization. Ensembles include Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Chamber Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Marching Band, and Pep Band.

Leadership opportunities include positions on the band council such as Drum Major, Assistant Drum Major, President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Representative, and Instrumental section leaders. According to Cato, the program helps affirm the notion that "everyone can succeed in life through dedication, persistence, and hard work toward their goals." Moreover, teamwork helps foster "camaraderie and produces a safe and nurturing environment for the students to learn."

Recently, the Coca-Cola Company spotted the students' talent at the Oakland Holiday Parade and invited them to be a part of a nationally televised Coca-Cola commercial. The students were paid to be in an ad called "Dance Across America."

Other credits include award-winning performances at the Hawaii Music Heritage Festival, the Anaheim Music Heritage Festival, and the San Francisco Music Heritage Festival, among others. "This has truly been a dream year for the students, the program, and me," said Cato.

Many students have overcome numerous financial and social obstacles to participate. Cato feels that this program motivates personal growth and instills self-discipline, self-esteem, and self-confidence in students who otherwise may have been targets for failure in life. He can relate many success stories of students turning from a life of drugs, violence, racism, and apathy to becoming self-motivated, caring, confident human beings. "I teach the students to believe in themselves and the program in hopes of building a better future for our entire community," he continued.

The program appreciates any assistance. For more information, please call (510) 293-5175, or (707) 694-6544.

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