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Orange County

Anaheim Music Convention Proves Instrumental to Schools

September 09, 2003|Claire Luna | Times Staff Writer

The traffic around the Anaheim Convention Center back on Jan. 17 may have been a headache to neighbors, but it has allowed eighth-grader Stephen Kungl to now toot his own horn.

Stephen and scores of other Anaheim Union High School District students were told Monday they'd receive new musical instruments valued at $50,000, thanks to a fund-raising concert at a music-industry trade show hosted at the convention center that day.

From the concert's proceeds, $30,000 was turned over to the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, a nationwide organization based in Sherman Oaks that encourages music education. The money is buying much-needed instruments through Yamaha, which gave the school district a price break to help.

The music money was distributed among nine district schools. Brookhurst Junior High, which Stephen attends, received four instruments: a clarinet, a saxophone, a trumpet and a baritone horn.

"It will make it a lot more fun if I have the chance to practice more at home," said Stephen, a horn player. "It makes me feel more free to try things and mess up and get better."

Anaheim schools don't offer band classes until seventh grade, and even then only about one-third of the music students can afford to buy instruments.

"The more instruments we have, the better the kids will play and the more pride they'll have in their music," said Brookhurst band director Steve Kraus.

His school's band room shows its age in its fading hand-made posters of musical scales, but the students' enthusiasm would have befitted Carnegie Hall as they played scales after the presentation.

Stephen played happily while fellow eighth-grader Angela Call polished her trumpet. In the past year, they've learned to play songs such as "Tempest" and "Wipeout."

Angela chose the trumpet because her older brother thought it would be cool. It's been pretty challenging for her to improve when only practicing during class and on her turn to take it home.

With the foundation gift, the school district received the largest share of $330,000 raised at the January concert, which was sponsored by the International Music Products Assn. The balance of the proceeds were distributed by the trade group through other organizations around the country.

Giving instruments to children is a great way to demonstrate to the community the benefit of holding large-scale events in the city, said Greg Smith, general manager of the Anaheim Convention Center.

"It's a burden on the community to host these things, with the traffic and such," Smith said.

"Talking about benefits like taxes is very intangible. But this way, people can see holding this trade show put instruments directly into kids' hands."

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