Making More Than Music: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

One of the primary missions of the Danville Community Band, (DCB) is commitment to the youth of our local schools in surrounding communities. A major impact of participation in school music reveals that students that study music do better in other academic courses than students who do not study music in school.

Musical involvement improves a student’s self-discipline, dexterity, coordination, self-esteem, leadership skills, listening skills, creative abilities and personal expression. The DCB does not want the lack of a quality band instrument to prevent a deserving student from gaining these benefits.

Danville Community Band Pays it Forward

In 2005, Carol O’Keefe, alto clarinet player in the DCB, conceived the program “Making More Than Music,” a scholarship program that provides new band instruments to deserving students in the Tri-Valley area.
Over the past nine years, the Danville Community Band has donated new band instruments to deserving middle and high school music students. This unique program was shaped by two motivations, O’Keefe explains. “First, the band wants to make a direct contribution to our local communities as a ‘thank you’ for their great support of the DCB. And second, the bands goal is to encourage talented young musicians to continue their involvement in school band music programs.”

Local school band directors are encouraged to nominate a student who loves music, shows promise, commitment and dedication and who may be challenged financially to afford a quality instrument of their own. O’Keefe, who serves as program coordinator, says, “Our hope is that by providing a new instrument we will encourage students to continue their musical efforts and enhance their appreciation and commitment to ongoing musical studies and performance.” A DCB selection committee determines the lucky winners. The students are presented with their new instruments at the Band’s Annual Spring Concert held in June.

Two candidates received new instruments this year: A tenor saxophone was awarded to Michael Antoun, age 12, who will be going into the 8th grade at Los Cerros Middle School in the fall and a flute was awarded to Ryan Walsh, age 15, who will be in the 10th grade at San Ramon Valley High School this fall.

Former Award Recipient

“I can say quite honestly that I don’t think I’d be where I am today had the Danville Community Band not given me a trombone nine years ago, said San Ramon Valley graduate, Julia Gettle.” She joined the DCB shortly after receiving the award and continued to play with them throughout high school. When Gettle was applying to colleges, Bob Calonico, who had taken over the DCB director’s baton during her senior year, encouraged her to join the Cal Band, if she chose to go to UC Berkeley. She was accepted at Cal and while playing in the Cal Band met a number of friends who eventually got her involved in university politics. Gettle later worked with UC’s lobby in Sacramento for a summer, served on several faculty committees on educational policy, ran the finances of a student political party, and served on the Cal Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.
“Through these activities I also met people who got me interested in Lebanon and its history, and now I’m winding up a gap year in Beirut before starting my PhD at Brown this fall,” Gettle explained. “None of this would have happened had I not joined the Danville Community Band. Not only did it start the chain of introductions that propelled me into university politics, but playing music with people of diverse ages also got me used to engaging with my elders as peers, which definitely came in handy when having to discuss policy with professors and fellow CAA board members.” Gwen Gettle, Julia’s younger sister, now plays trombone in the DCB.

Making it Happen

This program would not be possible without the consistent, generous contributions of Glenn Roberts, president of Best Instrument Music Company. He has been a long-time supporter of local musicians and music activities including music education in the schools and various local community groups. Roberts provides the instruments below cost, allowing the DCB to afford to maintain this program for young musicians in our surrounding communities

The Danville Community Band, with a membership of over 85-volunteer musicians, is the only band in the Bay Area that is providing no charge instruments to local students. Many who received these new band instruments have gone on to excel in high school and college music programs and in several cases, have also become members of the DCB.

The Band often receives communication back from students commenting on how the timely gift of a new instrument provided the confidence and enablement for expanded school and professional development opportunities that would otherwise have not been possible. To that end, the “Pay it Forward” concept of the DCB program is achieving its desired goals. Thanks to everyone in the San Ramon Valley communities for your continued support of the musical and philanthropic goals of the Danville Community Band.

Many thanks to Carol O’Keefe for her significant contributions to this article and her ideas, development and commitment to this program for the youth of the Tri-Valley Area.

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