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May 8, 2007 > Annual telethon keeps band alive

Annual telethon keeps band alive

By Julie Grabowski

Fremont elementary school bands are once again striking up for the Fremont Education Foundation's (FEF) 8th Annual Music Telethon. FEF, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to establish and support student programs, organizes a three-day telethon every year to support the After-School Band Program. The community, through pledges to the telethon, is able to provide no-fee band classes to all 27 elementary schools in the Fremont Unified School District. Established after budget cuts eliminated the regular band program in elementary schools, After-School Band gives interested 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students an opportunity to learn to play woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.

Throughout the district, 44 classes are available. Each school offers beginning and intermediate instruction. Now, four advanced classes have also been established at select schools as well. Classes are held once a week for approximately one hour and run from mid-October through April. Students are responsible for providing their own instruments, but for those with financial difficulties loaner instruments are available. "We have never turned a student away," says FEF Vice President Lara York. "We always make sure they have an instrument in their hands." FEF also welcomes donations of instruments. Ms. York notes that there are probably many instruments in need a new home. After-School Band is the perfect place for an idle flute, trumpet or band instrument; it can give these instruments a second life and bring the joy of music to young, budding musicians too.

York hopes the telethon raises enough money to be able to add more sections of classes and extend instruction time from the current 24 weeks to 29 or 30, providing a more complete school year. Last years' event raised $101,000, and this year, FEF has set their goal at $110,000. The Music Telethon is the sole support of the After-School Band Program; no state, federal, or district funds are allotted for its use.

The telethon will be conducted at the Comcast studio in Fremont May 15, 16, and 17 from 7 - 9 p.m. and broadcast on Fremont Cable 26. Each night will feature an in-house band as well as footage of After-School Band classes. Performances from Chadbourne and Mission Valley open the phones on Tuesday night, followed by Forest Park on Wednesday and Mattos on Thursday. Some After-School Band alumni who have gone on to play in junior high and high school bands will take part, as well as the program's talented band directors. Folk singer and songwriter Kris Olinger will also be performing.


Volunteers will be manning the phones, from high school students and parents to board members and friends of FEF. Local celebrities will be on hand to lend their support, including Mayor Bob Wasserman and City Council members, representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and school board members. The Music Telethon is generously sponsored by Fremont Bank; Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., CPAs (GROCO); and Summerhill Homes.

The telethon is vital to the survival of the After-School Band Program, and needs community support. "Think about what your day would be like without any music in it," says York. "Without this program we wouldn't have the musicians of the future." Ponder that the next time you turn on the radio or listen to your favorite CD, and support the wealth of possibility that lies in this wonderful program.

Credit card contributions can be made online at www.fremont-education.org where monthly payments are an option, or checks payable to the Fremont Education Foundation can be sent to 39120 Argonaut Way, # 381, Fremont, 94538. Be sure to write "band" in the memo line. For those wishing to help in a more hands-on way, the telethon is still in need of phone callers to contact the community and past supporters. Bilingual volunteers would be a great help.

For more information on the After-School Band Program or to volunteer, call the FEF message line at (510) 659-2561 or visit www.fremont-education.org.

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