SLIDESHOW: Music Mania plays to save Vacaville music programs, jobs
VACAVILLE, CA - It's a crunch that's felt in almost every school district across California, but when parents and students in the Vacaville Unified School District heard their music programs were facing elimination, they jumped at the opportunity to help.
Due to a lack of state funding, two high school music directors now have pink slips and the elementary music program could be slashed in half.
So the Nut Tree Plaza off Interstate 80 in Vacaville played host to an eight hour music marathon Saturday as students from almost every school in the district came to perform, a performance which doubled as a fundraiser.
"We're talking about seeing 4th and 5th graders once a week," elementary music coordinator Gina Freese said.
Along with some help from others, Freese organized the music marathon and fundraiser in just a few weeks.
Jazz bands, concert bands, wind ensembles, orchestras even choirs came to perform, hoping their music in the park would spark some generosity from the community.
Andy Herout has faith in that generosity because he grew up in Vacaville and now teaches at Vacaville High.
But he and Aaron Smith from Will C. Wood High will lose their jobs if $140,000 can't be raised.
"I think people really know the value of the arts and I think it can happen in a community like this," said Herout.
His faith may not be so far-fetched. Even before Music Mania began, $30,000 had already been donated.
A watercooler jug sat in the middle of the audience all day Saturday with dollar bill donations trickling in. Some dropped in $20 bills, others $50.
"We'll do as much as we can, one penny at a time," said Vacaville senior and jazz band student Derek Fong.
Fong volunteered his entire day in Nut Tree Plaza knowing how devastating losing music could be.
"Cuts have to be made, pink slips have to go out, but If that means we have to come out and play all day that's what we'll do," said Fong.
So one by one, note by note, every student played hoping their performance wouldn't be their last.
"It's a celebration of music and a celebration of can-do spirit," said Freese.
Organizers said the one day fundraiser brought in $3,200. They're planning more and students are already going door to door soliciting donations.