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Danbury students playing new tune thanks to VH1 Save the Music donations

December 28, 2018

DANBURY — Elementary school students at Danbury public schools are playing a new tune to end the year after receiving $120,000 in musical instruments and supplies this fall semester.

The VH1 Save the Music Foundation made the donations to support the band programs at Ellsworth, Hayestown and Stadley Rough elementary schools.

Last week, the Redding-based SpreadMusicNow presented $40,000 to the VH1 foundation’s local effort and the National Association of Music Merchants has donated another $20,000 to the foundation.

The schools celebrated with a performance at Ellsworth Avenue School from the elementary band students, directed by Brian Ho, and the second-grade chorus, directed by Skip Jennings.

“With six Core Band Grants in place to date, we are well on our way to ensuring all Danbury students have access to a high quality musical instrument in school and can reach their full potential,” said Jaclyn Rudderow, VH1 Save The Music Foundation program director.

The VH1 Save the Music Foundation partners with school districts and helps raise funds to restore music programs in public schools nationwide. Since its founding in 1997, it has donated more than $56 million in new musical instruments to more than 2,100 schools in 261 districts, according to the foundation.

This year’s donations have doubled the number of musical instruments available for Ellsworth students, Principal Marnie Durkin said.

“We are appreciative of everyone who has joined in to make this happen at our school,” she said.

Jill Russell-Benner leads the school district’s kindergarten through eighth grade music department and serves as the liaison between the schools and nonprofit organizations that donate supplies.

The donations make all the difference for schools that otherwise might look at cutting music programs, Danbury Schools Superintendent Sal Pascarella said.

“As we face budget restrictions that limit our ability to provide enrichment through the arts to every student, it is nothing short of a miracle that these nonprofit groups step in and work very hard to make sure that children are offered musical education that can be the start of a lifelong passion,” he said after the students’ recent performance. “As we could tell by the music the students made today, they are grateful, too.”

zach.murdock@hearstmediact.com

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