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East Ramapo students find musical outlet at Salvation Army
Brass instructor Donny Spencer counted off the beats of a whole note Thursday, urging his students at the Spring Valley Salvation Army to take big breaths and blow through all four beats.
With public schools trimming back on arts offerings, the music program has a waiting list for East Ramapo students who want the opportunity to toot their horns.
Already, 52 aspiring young musicians are taking part in the Salvation Army program that seeks to fill in the musical void, said Andrew Baker, the Red Shield Youth Music Academy director.
"I feel so excited. I can't wait to play. I get in a mood where I just get joyful," one seventh-grader said.
Baker, a professional tuba player and teacher who got his musical start at a Salvation Army church in New Jersey, said students are enthusiastic about the program.
"They want to get their homework done so they can go play an instrument," Baker said.
Founded in January, the Salvation Army program offers percussion, band and choir classes to East Ramapo students in the first through sixth grades, Baker said.
But the Salvation Army group is no stranger to tight budgets, like those that have shuttered public school offerings. They're seeking donations of music supplies or instruments, Baker said, describing how the teachers now teach students the basics of reading music with lines of tape on the floor.
"Even something as simple as a whiteboard on wheels and dry-erase markers so we can put some staff lines on it," Baker said. The group also needs guitars, keyboards and drums. Money from this year's holiday red kettle campaign will also help offset tuition costs for some students, according to a news release.
Donations can be made by calling 845-352-9577