When it comes to musical performances, audiences often want the best seat in the house, which is usually front and center.
To determine the importance of music to a school district, Tina Vafiadis is in the prime location.
Vafiadis, music teacher and band director of Ridley High School, stands front and center, guiding students through their performances. She's also been on the other side as a band member playing clarinet, baritone saxophone, and as a drum major. Vafiadis, a Ridley High School graduate, enjoyed the camaraderie of the band and calls the experience fulfilling.
"Those friendships are ones I still carry today," she said.
During her time as a student from 2002-2006, Vadiadis saw that the band had more members than when she returned as director seven years ago. Some of the reasons for the decline, she says, are kids not being able to afford instruments and the yearlong demands of sports. Woodlyn and Eddystone elementary schools have the lowest high school band enrollment. When they looked at the data, it was clear the families needed assistance acquiring instruments for their children.
On a recent Tuesday morning, for Vafiadis and other members of the Ridley School District, any spot, even crisscross-legged floor seating for students, was the best seat. At Woodlyn Elementary School's gymnasium, VH1 Save The Music Foundation
and Urban Outfitters' Community Cares initiative gave Woodlyn and Eddystone elementary schools a set of new musical instruments, equipment, professional development and program supports totaling more than $60,000 to start new band programs.
"In Ridley we are a unique community and have a varying degree of economic needs," noted Vafiadis. "Accepting this grant is going to make it possible for kids in Woodlyn and Eddystone to be able to be a part of our instrumental music program. Some kids may not have had that opportunity before. It's extremely important for these schools. I'm excited to see how many kids we get in the band over the years solely because of this grant."
The two grants in the Ridley School District are part of VH1 Save The Music's 2017 class of grant recipient schools across the country. The Foundation is awarding a total of 80 grants this fall in communities that span from coast to coast. All schools have committed to hiring a certified music teacher to teach the music program as part of the regular school day and support their growing music program for years to come.
Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel pointed out, "Since 2008, we saw a significant decline of
students participating in instrumental music at Eddystone and Woodlyn elementary schools. The help from Urban Outfitters and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation will rebuild our bands, not just in these schools, but also at our middle and high schools for years to come. We are going to have the opportunity we haven't had for a long time. Everyone will have the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument. We want them to take advantage of it."
To date, Save The Music has donated more than $53 million for new musical instruments to more than 2,000 public schools in 257 school districts around the country.
"It's impossible for me to tell you all the way music benefits kids; it's life changing," said Vafiadis. "We know it connects closely to their academic progress. Students who are involved in music tend to use more parts of their brain simultaneously. The social aspects are important. I also see it teaches kids responsibility and time management."
The Ridley High School band plays old standbys like the Notre Dame fight song and ""Louie Louie" but also has added "Despacito" and Twenty One Pilots to their repertoire.
"I liked listening to music so I thought I would be able to play," says Thomas Mastroddi, a Ridley High School junior who is the battery leader and plays snare drum.
"I think it's great. Music is a fun hobby."
© Copyright (c) 2017 The Spirit, All rights reserved., source Blogs