VISTA — Music is a priority for the Vista Unified School District.
The district recently received more than 500 donated instruments from North Coast Church, and last summer, was awarded a $30,000, 10-year grant from VH1 Save the Music and Vista-based Sound United to start a music program at Grapevine Elementary School.
Grapevine Principal Rafael Olavide said the program has allowed all 800 students a weekly music class. In addition, the school was able to hire a full-time music instructor, Susan Stuber.
“The students love it,” Olavide said. “All our students get music instruction. There is more instruction students could have with specialized instruments after school.”
By receiving the grant, music has exploded on campus leading to the creation of a school choir, which has 120 students. Additionally, Olavide said, the students have blossomed, becoming more self-assured, confident and some are breaking out of their shells.
The students learn the principles of music, notes, reading music, tempo and more, Stuber said. She said since the beginning of the school year, the students have flourished by building their skills and music literacy.
Additionally, the kids are becoming more creative, singing in tune and making connections with other students.
“We are able to break down the introverts,” Stuber added. “And the kids are respecting each other more.”
As for Sound United, the Vista company is focusing on donating 10,000 instruments throughout the country to jump-start music programs in public schools. Last year, Sound United outfitted a school in Chula Vista with instruments and a monetary donation through VH1 to launch a program there.
Kevin Duffy, Sound United chief executive officer, said the company relies on VH1 to ensure flawless execution of donations made to the Sound United’s “Sound Start” program. Sound Start’s mission is to donate 10,000 musical instruments to children in need worldwide by the 2020-21 school year, he added.
The foundation uses a percentage of Denon, Polk Audio and Definitive Technology sales and direct donations to raise the funds necessary to purchase the musical instruments, which VH1 Save the Music then distributes with guidance from Sound United.
“We think it will make a huge difference to the district,” Duffy said. “Music programs are typically some of the first on the chopping block when budgets come into question, and while we can’t comment on what that situation is like for every VUSD school, we knew that Grapevine Elementary was in need of new instruments based on the work done by VH1 Save the Music.”
Also, since Sound United is based in Vista, Duffy said it made sense to deliver a positive impact and give the kids in Vista an opportunity to experience the power of music education.
The company also contributes to other North County organizations through its Forte for Children Foundation. For example, Sound United has donated items and money to organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista, along with the Moonlight Cultural Foundation, Casa de Amparo and Solutions for Change.
“Just like learning a language, music is most effectively learned at an early age,” Duffy said. “However, music education programs are in need of assistance. We felt that given our weight in the industry, we could make a serious difference in kids’ lives. I think the Sound Start program is doing that with every donation.”