I was in my High School orchestra, but I was really bad. I played the viola. Because there were only two violists, I sat “first stand” – even though I was really bad. That meant I turned the pages while the first violist – who was really good – played. After a while, I even learned to turn them at the right time.
Being in the orchestra was a thrill. We gave Winter and Spring concerts, and I played in the pit orchestra for Anything Goes. What a joy to make music as an ensemble. Each of us, in our own way, contributed to the whole, combining our voices and our souls to create something together that was much richer than anyone could have made alone. Even though I wasn’t a very good musician, I brought myself to the group, and I was welcome. We laughed a lot.
Not everyone gets to play in the orchestra. Not every school has an orchestra. Not every school orchestra has instruments. What a loss of opportunity, creativity, leadership, and togetherness.
One such school is JB Sutton Elementary, a K-5 school in West Phoenix. It’s a Title I school, and 100% of the students are enrolled in the national free breakfast and lunch program. The school receives funding to provide meals, but it does not have money for band or orchestra. I want to help solve that. Ben Paley, Temple Emanuel member and bass player in the Shabba-Tones, is the music teacher at JB Sutton. He’s taken it upon himself to raise the funds necessary to provide instruments for the kids.
One way to do that is with Arizona School Tax Credits. Any donation up to $200 per individual and $400 per married couple goes directly to the school’s music program. It’s then refunded dollar for dollar on your state taxes. You’re not out anything, and kids get instruments to make music. It’s really quite simple. Here’s more information:
Together, Temple Emanuel can supply a music program that will serve hundreds of low income children. Together, we can put instruments in their hands and a tune in their heart. Imagine if 50 of us donate $200 each – all of which gets refunded. That $10,000 would be transformative. We can do it – and we need you to take part. Please join us.
By the way, you can also donate to an organization through the Arizona Working Poor tax credit. These programs are complementary. People are regularly surprised that Temple Emanuel has a rabbi who can sing. I can sing because I was in orchestra and choir in High School, learning to sit up straight, to breathe, to read music, and to listen. My life – and our community’s – has been enhanced by a public school music program.
That’s why I’m making the full $200 contribution to JB Sutton Elementary. I’m doing so in appreciation for Mr. Richard Farmer, and in honor of Temple Emanuel’s own Ben Paley.
Please join me in providing that opportunity for another kid, and another community.