Dayton schools’ music program revival gets $100K donation from Yamaha

Dayton Public Schools’ ongoing revival of school music programs got another boost this week, as Yamaha donated 24 timpani drums and five french horns valued at $104,499 for student use.

“This donation supports the program we are trying to build,” DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said. “It is a wonderful contribution for us, and we are very appreciative of it. We have a lot of people who want music to be revitalized again.”

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There are about 900 DPS students who take either choral or instrumental music in grades 7 through 12, and all kindergarten through sixth graders have a music class, according to district officials.

Dayton’s middle schools now offer concert band and choir, while Belmont, Dunbar, Meadowdale and Thurgood Marshall high schools offer those options plus marching band. Dunbar also has a women’s choir, and Stivers School for the Arts offers the broadest range, including symphonic band, wind ensemble, orchestra and private lessons.

Yamaha officials Marcia Neel and Dave Clark presented the instruments to the Dunbar and Thurgood Marshall high school band directors and students. The donations will benefit students at multiple high schools and middle schools.

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“Supporting music education has always been at the heart of everything we do at Yamaha,” said Lisa Steele-MacDonald, director of marketing at Yamaha. “Music programs provide a springboard for academic and personal success — and we are dedicated to providing substantial tools to music teachers so they can continue to support young musicians’ future success in life.”

Last spring, during the WinterGuard International competition, 150 DPS middle and high school students participated in clinics run by Yamaha performing artist Lamar Burkhalter and WGI Director of Winds Wayne Markworth.

Instrumental music programs had faded in many DPS schools over the past decade, before a Bring Back the Bands program was launched by the Dayton Public Schools Foundation in 2016-17. Instrument donations continue to be a key part of the effort.

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