At the beginning of every school year, most band directors throughout the country are preoccupied with instrument fittings, class rosters, rehearsal routines and teaching the fundamentals for a good music foundation. This busy time of year looked very different for Central High School and many other schools in Louisiana during the fall of 2016.
The excitement of the new school year turned to sudden tragedy when Baton Rouge and surrounding areas were impacted by terrible flooding that destroyed communities, schools, homes and local businesses. The flooding started the first days of school, after many excited students had taken their school-owned instruments home to practice. During the flood, homes and belongings were destroyed along with more than $60,000 worth of school and student owned instruments. The directors and band members were left helpless, facing their new reality of cleanup, starting over, and making the best of a terrible situation.
Driven by desperation, their band director decided to write a Facebook message to Harry Connick Jr, a musician and New Orleans native who had recently started a new daytime talk show. In the Facebook post, the band director shared the tragic loss of homes and personal possessions that over 90% of his students and their families were experiencing. These dedicated students, despite their unfortunate circumstances, still wanted to continue having band practice. After all, band is a family, and these kids made that crystal clear. The director set up rehearsals, but because of lack of instruments and funds, there were limitations on what he could do.
Harry and his team heard the story and acted quickly. They reached out to Rick DeJonge at KHS America where they had worked with previously on some other projects. KHS America is home to Jupiter Wind instruments, Majestic Percussion and Mapex Drums and together they discussed how they could best help the school, band program and these families. The employees with the music company (many of them with degrees in Music Education) quickly came up with a game plan and DeJonge loaded a 26-foot truck full of instruments and drove to the school just days later. Additionally, Harry’s talk show was set to be recorded live at the school to capture the surprise. The students and families were in tears upon receiving brand new instruments during a time of terrible loss. This gift was truly a glimmer of light, happiness and hope during a dark time of desperation. Although many of these students lost their homes and possessions, music was still the glue that kept them together.
Because of the tireless efforts and abundant generosity of Harry Connick, Jr. and KHS America, these budding musicians at this Louisiana school found solace for themselves and others by bringing the comfort of beautiful music into the midst of profound tragedy.
KHS America is a family of brands that includes Jupiter, Mapex, and Majestic. KHS America supports band directors is many ways, and becoming a business partner of BandDirectorsTalkShop.com is just one of them. We are grateful for their support! If you want to check out some of their best new products, have a look at MyCase and the Reflections Marimba!
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