Tag Archives: Jon Garcia

Bassick Band: The Sequel

Last month, I posted a story about the Bassick High School band.

The underfunded, often overlooking Bridgeport school had finally hired a band teacher: Jon Garcia. He was eager to teach students; they were just as eager to learn.

But the band closet was bare.

Westonite Martha Deegan marched into action. She and Westport opera singer Lucia Palmieri offered to collect instruments languishing in local attics and basements.

Her Sky’s the Limit Foundation said they’d clean them. Norwalk’s AAA Band Rentals — owned by Weston resident Mike Spremulli — agreed to recondition all donations, for free.

A month later, Martha checks in with more good news. So far, over 100 instruments have poured in.

Jon Garcia, Martha Deegan and a few of the many percussion instruments donated to Bassick High School.

“The kids were so impressed to receive brand-new-looking, flawless flutes, trumpets, clarinets and saxophones!” she says.

Sky’s the Limit furnished 10 new saxes, and an assortment of Hispanic percussion instruments — congas, bongos and more — for the jazz band.

Gomez also received an enormous music-scale whiteboard on wheels, for his classroom.

And 72 uniform shirts are coming from Lands’ End for the Christmas concert.

In addition, a group called KEYES is working closely with the students, teachingi them how to play keyboard.

Donations continue to pour in. On Thanksgiving morning, Martha Deegan found this on her front steps.

Looking ahead, Martha envisions an “almost free” space near Bassick that could serve as a dedicated after-school music space for practicing and jamming. She would call it “Bridgeport Harmony.” It could become an umbrella organization for the various groups trying to help sustain arts in the Bridgeport schools.

Meanwhile, there is one more need: a volunteer saxophone player, 4 hours a week.

To follow up on that, the “Bridgeport Harmony” idea — or anything else — email marthadeegan@rocketmail.com.

Bassick Band Needs Music Men (And Women)

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.

Bassick High School band director Jon Garcia.

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.

Bassick High School band members.

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.

Still needed:

  • 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 marthadeegan@rocketmail.com)