In Westport, our schools’ stellar music program is a given.
Just a few miles away in Bridgeport, it’s a gift.
Bassick High School struggles with the basics. Recently, administrators found enough money to hire a band leader. Jon Garcia is eager to teach students, who are just as eager to learn.
But they can’t play without instruments. The band closet was almost empty.
When Westonite Martha Deegan heard about the situation, she called a meeting with her Sky’s the Limit Foundation board of directors. They voted to take on the project.
They ask area residents with instruments languishing in closets, attics and basements — in other words, plenty of Westporters — to donate them to the Bassick marching band.
The foundation will clean them, and replace cork, pads and valves — whatever is needed to get the instruments in working order.
It would be great, Martha says, to get donations to buy new ones. But that’s expensive: a new tuba costs up to $7,000. So they’re concentrating on used, semi-forgotten but desperately needed instruments.
She has a personal desire to provide saxophones: Her father played sax with Stan Kenton and the Paul Whiteman Orchestrsa, back in the day at Cedar Point, Ohio.
Martha will pick up any instruments — anywhere in Connecticut. She’ll also reimburse shipping costs from out of state.
She’s off to a great start. A lawyer friend called, and offered an accordion, violin, sax, conga drum and cymbals from foreclosed houses that are being cleaned out.
Donations have already begun: trombones, trumpets, woodwinds, keyboards, euphoniums, electric guitars, and a clarinet, banjo and grand piano (!) from Westporters, and a flute from a Weston family.
Local residents involved include Dr. Jennifer Baum Gruen, opera singer Lucia Palmieri, “What Up Westport” founder Marcy Sansolo, Sue Connors, Shirley Hwang, Sue Daly and Kristana Esslinger.
Norwalk’s AAA Band Rentals shop — owned by Weston resident Mike Spremulli — has offered to recondition (free!) all donations.
Members of the “Bassick Big Band” will play at Barnes & Noble on Saturday, November 9 (3 to 5 p.m.). They’ll accept contributions (of money and/or instruments). The store will donate a portion of its profits from sheet music and music books to the school’s program.
- 4 flutes
- 1 obe
- 1 clarinet
- 4 alto saxophones
- 3 tenor saxophones
- 1 baritone saxophone
- 5 trumpets
- 2 French horns
- 5 trombones
- 2 baritone euphoniums
- 1 tuba
- 1 concert bass drum
- 1 concert snare drum
- 1 pair of crash cymbals
- 1 timables
- 1 pair of congas
- 1 pair of bongos
- 2 electric bass guitars
- 1 electric guitar
“The Good Book teaches us to ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the lands,'” Martha says. “This is my holiday wish and mitzvah for the Bassick High School marching band.”
(To donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org)