School Music Programs

I recently read an article that got me thinking about my elementary, junior high, and high school days. An article in the Los Angeles Times reported on a rash of (many instances of something happening in a short period of time) thefts of tubas from schools in L.A. The article attributes (gives as the reason for) the thefts to the growth in popularity of banda music in Southern California, a type of traditional Mexican music using brass instruments (musical instruments often made of brass and uses the air from your mouth and body to make music).  Unfortunately, the stolen instruments can be sold for a lot of money on the black market (the illegal buying and selling of things).

I was very sad to read this article because I remember how much the school music program meant to me when I was growing up in Arizona.  In our school district (group of schools under the same administration) in Tucson, there was a school music program in elementary school, junior high, and high school.  Since every state and school district is different, it’s hard to make generalizations about what school music programs are like, so I’ll just talk about my own experience.

Our school music program was not an after-school program, but a part of the regular school day.  For one hour a day (or two or three hours a week in elementary school), students whose parents allowed them to participate in the program met with the music teacher.  Our orchestra (group of musicians playing together) teacher taught us to play our instruments and conducted (led a group of musicians, usually standing in front of the group) us all to play together.  Students could bring their own instruments from home or they could borrow a school instrument for the year.  This way, students whose parents could not or did not want to buy instruments could still participate.

Starting in the fifth grade (age 10), I played the violin, a beautiful instrument in skilled (with ability) hands, but in mine, an instrument of torture. Still (even so; despite this), I enjoyed learning to play and most of all, I enjoyed being with other students out of the traditional classroom.  Our orchestra, like many school orchestras, played concerts for the school and also played in the community at special events, such as holiday festivals and celebrations.  As a group, we also traveled to play in other cities when we could raise (earn; collect) enough money.

Money to pay for the school instruments, our teacher (shared with other schools), and other classroom resources were paid for by the school.  Everything else was paid for by parents or, more often, through fundraising.  It is very common for students in school music, athletic, drama (theater), or other activities to have school fundraisers. We had car washes: We would convince a nearby gas station to let us wash cars for a day or for the weekend on their premises (at their location) to earn money.  We sold candy: We sold candy to other students, our friends, and went door-to-door (from one house to another) to sell to neighbors.  We sold lottery tickets: These were tickets, usually for $1, for a chance to win a prize (something valuable you can win) that someone — a parent or someone in the community — had donated (given without receiving money).  I cannot tell you how many things we did or sold to earn money.  But for me, it was all part of the fun of being part of this group.

To be honest, our school orchestra was never very good.  With the exception of one or two really gifted (talented) students who went on to study music, we just bumbled through (did without any skill) the music.  (Some who are less charitable (kind and giving) would say we murdered (killed)  the music.) But for me, and I imagine for a lot of students, it was good experience and it exposed us (gave us access) to music and instruments we would never have played otherwise.  Sadly, with poor economic times, many schools have or will need to eliminate (remove) their school music programs.  This is especially sad in neighborhoods where buying musical instruments and paying for private music lessons is beyond the means of (more money than can be paid by) the parents.

Are there school music programs where you live, and do students participate in fundraisers for music or other activities?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit: Violin from Wikipedia 

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27 Responses to School Music Programs

  1. KGreb says:

    Yes. It is very sad thing. Not only music but also other arts are decreasing too. Why? I think it is common problem for all of the world…

  2. Betty says:

    Thank you very much, Lucy, for this lovely heartfelt story of your childhood.

    It is also a story not about mine, but my daughters’ childhood.

    My daughters did everything you mentioned in the article: violin in orchestra, car washing for fundraising etc.

    I enjoyed this article partly because it reminds me of happier time of mine in the past.

    Now we know the hands we saw from the anniversary videos had play the violin.

    Thanks again, Lucy, a good story that tells a typical life for a talented girl growing up in Arizona, U.S. 🙂


    Yes, Myo Ko Ko, thank you for your message which is so funny.

    I am busy because I have to move flat soon. It means I do not have time to type message. I just managed to read all your messages and rush back to my packing for moving.

    You are very kind to offer to help me. Your message is good enough to keep up my spirit which is important when one is facing a depressing job like house moving.

    Thank you again, Myo Ko Ko, keep writing, keep happy. 😉


    I am quite worry about a problem I have recently.

    When I click into the “blog” on the top right corner of the front page of this website, I got “Bearing Children” instead of the latest article. Even the “Recent Comments” on the left hand side of the page shows the latest messages for “Bearing Children”.

    However, I do not have this problem when I check the web page from my iphone. It means the problem only exist in computer, or just in my own computer.

    Very worrying ……… 🙁

  3. Betty says:

    Thank God!

    The computer problem I had has disappeared!

    Or, shall I thank the team?

    Thanks, thanks, thanks.

    This is a very responsible website. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. elcomandant says:

    I’m from Valencia, city belonging to Valencian Comunity of Spain. This Comunity is well-known for the amount of people who learn and play music and more specifically my mom’s city called Lliria. In fact, there is a sign at the entrance of town saying “Welcome to Lliria, the City of the music”.

    This little town has two orchestras – firstly they were bands – famous in the whole world for their musicians and the wonderful music they play. When I was a kid, fifty years ago, when they were a band, almost every musicians were teenagers and worked in farms, construction, etc. and they knew only read and write and little more, however they played their instruments like angels.

    Nowadays is very different than it was then. The musicians in this town go out to play around the world. Usually there is at least one band in every town and the kids learn music out of school, at the local and the teacher that the band has.

    If you want to know more about this Orchestras you will found by going to the website and to the website. 😉

    Greetings. 🙂

  5. Peter says:

    Well, back then,in my high school time. The idea of music and music classes was sth of a Satan ritual.
    The idea of of music wasn’t very encouraging by the tyrent government whose theme dictated grief,sorrow ,or sadness.
    So , the music conduct of any kinds were punishable with excommunication and jail time.
    As a result,I don’t have any memory to share with you guys.
    Not even a suppressed memory.

  6. Peter says:

    Dear Lucy,
    Very rich post,And fond memories you got up there. I enjoyed every bit if it.
    As I said the idea of music was sth of a taboo or perhaps a profanity when I was growing up.
    So , I never got the opportunity to experience the great time you said you had back then.
    So no memory for me there
    But,I have heard there have been done changes to the whole brutal policy.
    Seems like ,people can play the instruments they like ,yet still there is no music classes added to the general coruculum of school districts.
    You can go take privet lessons ,but, not in school time.
    It is still sth of an extravegance back hone.
    Note very family can afford the luxury. And still there is some limitation to it
    You can’t go about it openly and freely

  7. Dan says:

    Hello guys,

    The only thing I remember is a miserable plastic flaute from wich came out a great amount of saliva.

    Never participated to any fundriser activity so, like Peter I can’t share that much.


    I have been reading you for a long time now, I can’t remember you mentioning you country.

    From wich country are you from?


  8. Peter says:

    I m from the planet earth my friend,Dan:)

    Well,to be more percise
    I blocked out that part of my life
    They are all a bunch of suppressed memories.
    I haven’t been speaking ,reading ,or writing the language for so long that it has become easier for me to express myself in English.
    I got disconnected with my past.
    And ,I m here with eslpod because it has expedited the transition process for me.
    So ,I see my self as a descendless Canadian,the country that sheltered me in from all the darkness and misery.

  9. Peter says:

    The amendment to all the brutal policielis came in effect after my time. It alleviates the ordeal but not enoght to have me remember my identity.
    Now ,I assumed a new identity away from all the superstitions and fematic rules that once had stolen my freedom and had dictated my every move.

  10. emilano says:

    Jesus, thank you very much for your nice commet in the last post.

    By the way, your country “Colombia” gives a continous great homage
    to the man that discover the new land of America. In fact it is the only
    whole country that remebers his name together with the district of
    Columbia in EE.UU. and the British Columbia in Canada.

    It is funny the story of him as he thought nearly till the end of his life
    that he has arrived to India (he called the people indios…indians by
    his own mistake) not being concious that he has discovered a new
    continent between Europe and Asia that was unknown before.

    Thank you Jesus again, I know your country is absolutely great
    and incredible beauty.
    So much to discover always.

    Warren this morning when I was crossing the street I have seen
    the most nice best friend a man may have, the dog was the top
    and be sure that I was thinking in your post having in mind the
    possibility of having one and how Gatufo could received the
    new inhabitant of the house.
    I said to me, if I adopt a puppy it is possible the cat and the dog
    could be friends….Afterward when I arrived home the cat wasn´t
    at the door to received me, it seems the cat guessed my thoughts?
    Who knows?.


  11. emiliano says:

    Lucy, so good memories that give me pleasure for you but for me nothing of that was
    I could imagine a world like that because I have seen it in movies and watching the
    movies I have felt something similar to envy in the best way.
    I do think you had a privilege good education that taught you lot of good materials
    like music, literature or how to play an instrument and the best how to appreciate
    arts either.

    I did not have anything similar being a child. Spain was a very poor country
    where the majority of young boys and girls did not received nothing but the
    elementary teaching.
    With fourteen or fifteen years old they have to work even in a city like Madrid, where
    I grew up, but in the countryside it was even worst.
    My father worked a lot to give us more high education but nothing like music, literature
    or arts.
    I was supposed that I was going to work in the Industrial Mechanic Factories as
    hight qualified worker, so I had to study science and thecnology beside drawing.
    Music? Literature? …No.
    I did not know how I got in touch with all these subjects but it was by my own will,
    without any teaching, just the same like now with informatic or before with English.

    Yes, I could imagine the world of your childness – youth like a dream where I had
    would like to be but my world was quite different.
    I think not so bad as Peter´s (sorry friend I could imagine yours also as I have been
    informed by my age reading) but it was a world from I do not have some how not so good
    memories like yours Lucy.
    Too much poverty, censure, lack of ideas. prosecution, too much religion, prohibitions
    hunger, lack of culture that it was the worst of all.
    Till the sixties decade this was a world of absolute mediocrity, only the movies, radio or some
    books could relived the loneliness of a curious boy or girl.
    “Bread, Football and Bullfights” that was the motto of the dictator to maintain
    peace in the country.
    Well, more or less the same that have (or is happening) happened in lot of places where freedom is

    Congratulations Lucy by your good memories and your music learn.
    Be sure I envy you, in the right way, for that.


  12. Elvis Johnny says:

    I’ve encoutered an idential problem as you did these days, it would show up a post “bearing children” on the top of the page while i was clicking on the button “View more”, and it last me for 1 week.
    it’s quit a bit odd, how did it happen? and how did you get it through?
    Are there some of technical guy who can resovle me with this problem?

    I’ m sorry i seldom leave messages here than previous time, but i keep up reading our tutors’ beautiful posts, the reason for that is a response form “Big Warren” who told me the key to success of my english is comprehensible reading and listening rather than anything others, so i cut down my writing and get to touch some of fictions that are quite fit with my present english level.
    the another reason is i’ve got did my assignments in my major.

    another doubt got me caught when i was listening to episode 593, hopefully someone here can help me out.
    i quoted part of the dialogue as follows:

    Carin: We’re going to be late for school. Hurry up!

    Hwan: I’m not going to school today. I’m sick.

    Carin: You’re not sick. You’re playing hooky. You’re not going to put one over
    on Mom. She’ll know you’re faking. Get up! Let’s go!

    the truth is Carin are not going to school, he is going to put one over on his Mom.
    why is Hwan saying you’are not going to put one over on Mum?
    it’s bit of tricky, i cannot figure out the logic of Hwan’s saying.

    many thanks our coaching “Lucy, Jeff, and Warren”, for the efforts and time you took on us.
    best wishes to all you guys,

    silly bonehead.

  13. Peter says:

    Hey Jeff, Wassup ?
    On the list you made on the last post. I just realized that religion disparity comes in 13 as a criterion to select a is so not true.
    Here in Canada and lots of other places that I have been to ,religious background comes in first in choosing a partner.
    In Canada ,it is a major problem for people with some specific religious fait to find a girl friend much less a partner
    I felt strongly about it ,so It was Extreamly important to me to address it.
    What do you think I m alone ,then.

  14. Myo ko ko says:

    Yeah! Lucy,
    Betty was right.
    I’m also experiencing the same “blog” problem she has faced.
    Betty said the problem on her computer had disappeared.
    But I’m still encountering it. I don’t know why!
    First I thought, like Betty did, this problem is only with the computer I use (this one runs on Windows XP) .
    So I tried logging into your blog on another computer (this one is on Windows 7) in another Internet Cafe’ here.
    Well, the problem is still there!!
    Now I have to access your blog through the link you place on your home page.

    So much thanks Lucy for your post.
    I’ll thoroughly read it on my portable MP4 player at home,
    drinking a cup of coffee, sharing your schooldays experience, reflecting on my own days in high school.
    Just skimming your post,
    Lucy you can play violin? Great!
    I can’t just make head or tail of that miracle instrument!
    But like you were, I’m skilled enough to murder the music, at least with my guitar! 😛

  15. ESL Podcast Team says:

    Thank you for letting us know about the temporary blog access problem. We believe that the problem has been fixed.

    If anyone experience problems with the blog from now on, please let us know and we’ll do our best to fix it as soon as we can.

    ESL Podcast Team

  16. Peter says:

    “A word of recognition ”
    Very well-written post.
    I enjoy reading it.
    All the rules of proper writing are applied.
    Very good post to learn one thing or two not about the school system per say (Jeff,thanks for the explanation on the term” per say” you are the mere reason that I have enabled to use the term in the first place), but about the punctuation ,grammar ,and transitional words.
    Lucy, i have to say ,your latest post has brought in some sophistication on the blog.
    Particularly ,I like the “more often ” you threw in between and the fact that it should be flunked by commas. Good show on that.
    And guys,
    “Got me thinking” it is awfully common.
    Lucy ,
    Thanks for correcting one of my slip-ups in the post. For most occasions similar to the situation you applied the pherasal word “paid for,” I typcally would use “paid” alone. I mean,without the relevant proposition” for.”
    Today ,from this post I learned one of my errors that always goes unnoticed.
    Now,I came to realize that the proposition ” for” is an inherent part of the word “pay” for most casses.
    That is the beauty of Eslpod. you learn where your errors are and correct them accordingly.
    Guy, a piece of advise.
    Read between lines while reading a post.
    My mistake up to now was :I always read through the posts fast in a hurry to put down my thoughts on the blog.
    Well,It is wrong !
    Starting today ,I forget about all the writing and focus more on all the reading.
    Today’s post gave me some good new ideas,some insight if you like, for my report writing.
    As a student ,I must write reports ,make power points , and make presentations , more often than not.
    The posts on the blog help me with it.
    I read them and bounce off ideas of them for my writing home works ,and in-class assignments.
    Having said that , today’s post is very rich for getting some practical ideas for writing.
    I copied and pasted the post on my iPhone so i can study it further.
    The post is good for data mining:)
    Thank you Lucy,
    I must say,you raised the bar a bit.
    Seems like you starting to discusse matters on a more sophisticated level.
    Thanks for the level of sophistication you always bring to Eslpod,in particular Blog

    keep up the good work sis

    A huge fan

    The bonehead:))

  17. Betty says:

    Thank you so much, Elvis Johnny and Myo ko ko, you both alerted the team about the blog access problem and now my computer is working properly.

    The problem on my computer disappeared temporary and then it came back. I thought I had to live with it.

    Thanks to you two, Jeff and his team sorted out the problem for us. I hope it last this time.

    I like the chance of having to explain something. Please let me try to explain the dialogue of the ESL Podcast 593 – Staying Home from School.

    Hopefully, with the kind permission of, they will let me use part of their GLOSSARY in the “Learning Guide” which I excerpted below:

    to play hooky – to not go to school when one is supposed to; to skip classes

    * Did you ever play hooky when you were in high school?

    to put one over on (someone) – to trick someone; to fool someone; to hide what one is doing from someone

    * Michele tried to put one over on her boss by saying she had to go to a funeral, but he knew she was really taking the day off to go to the beach.

    to fake – to pretend that something is happening, especially to pretend to be sick when one really isn’t

    * Clarisse says she loves him, but I think she’s faking it and is really just interested in his money.

    Original of the dialogue:

    Carin: We’re going to be late for school. Hurry up!
    Hwan: I’m not going to school today. I’m sick.
    Carin: You’re not sick. You’re playing hooky. You’re not going to put one over on Mom. She’ll know you’re faking. Get up! Let’s go!

    Meaning of the dialogue:

    Carin (the sister) and Hwan (the brother) needed to go to school together.

    Carin asked Hwan to hurry up, because they were going to be late.

    However, Hwan did not hurry up, he did not want to go to school because there was a test on Biology which he wanted to avoid (to get out of it). So, he told Carin that he was sick (ill).

    Carin knew that Hwan was pretending to be sick so that he did not have to go to school.

    So she said to Carin: “You’re not sick. You’re playing hooky. You’re not going to put one over on Mom. She’ll know you’re faking. Get up! Let’s go!”


    Now, please have a look at the Glossary above for the explanation of:
    1. to play hooky
    2. to put one over on (someone)
    3. to fake


    Please look at the dialogue again to see if you understand it.

    In the unlikely event that you still do not understand it, read the above again a few more time.

    You should get the meaning of the dialogue. If not, leave it for the time being, you may understand it one day just like that.


    Jeff explained in the podcast that:

    ““Carin says, “You’re not going to put one over on Mom.”
    “To put one over on (someone)” is a somewhat complicated expression; it means to fool someone, to trick someone, to make someone believe something that isn’t true. It’s a somewhat informal expression: to pull one over on someone.””

    Because it is a “somewhat complicated informal expression”, it is useful for us to learn it. This is the ‘real’ English that Lucy want us to learn.

    “Complicated informal expression” it is. I must admit I did not know this expression until now.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  18. Betty says:

    Sorry, Error in my post above:

    “This is the ‘real’ English that Lucy want us to learn”.
    Should read as: “This is the ‘real’ English that Lucy wants us to learn”.

  19. Betty says:

    Sorry, Elvis Johnny, I should have read your question more carefully.

    Yes, Hwan wanted to put one over on his mum (mom in U.S. English, mum in U.K. English).

    But Carin said that “you are not going to put one over on mom” to mean that Hwan might be trying to put one over on his mom, but he would not be successful in putting one over on his mom, he would not be able to fool his mom, because his mom was clever.

  20. EHAB says:

    That was very sad bad fact around the world to loose this kind of share in our life

  21. Betty says:

    Hi Emiliano,

    Dogs and cats can live in harmony under one roof.

    We had many dogs and cats in one big flat when I was small and they got along without any problem.

    It is better the cat has been in the home long before you bring the puppy in. That way the cat will teach the puppy some lessons by smacking the dog with its paws long before the puppy grows into a big scary dog. The dog normally remembers the cat as the fierce lion of the home and will not dare to attack it.

    This is my theory. You have to make your own research and decision before bringing a puppy into your home.

    I thought of giving my father a dog but he rejected the idea because he did not want to look after a dog.

    I managed to talk him into accepting a helper to help him regain independence.

    My sister had to train the helper to look after my father. He is a lot happier and healthier now.

    Hey, why didn’t I think about giving my father a dog? My father does not have to worry about looking after the dog himself, the helper will take care of that.

    Best Regards

    Betty 😉

  22. Jesús says:


    Appreciate your words about my country, historically our countries (Spain and Colombia) have lots of stories in common to talk about, I’m pretty sure you know about them more that I do. We also share the same language (Spanish), but ironically, we met here in an English Learning web site. I have to tell you that when I find time to read the ESL podcast stories, I always read your comments, because of your good English, and excellent, and fun stories, so I encourage you to continue leaving your comments in this Web site that we all like so much.

    Regarding the story, I have to tell that I enjoyed a lot my high school years,being part of the School band, I played the drums (not sure if that’s the correct name). That band that I talk about is one that is just playing when there’s a special event, or a holiday like the Independence Day, or the inauguration of some especial event. What I want to explain by saying this is that this band doesn’t play music for people to dance, is just to march. People, students in this case, were marching all the way behind the band. Excellent years…not too much ago!!

    Regards to all

  23. Betty says:

    Sorry I think I have made a mistake in my post above:

    “You have to make your own research and decision before bringing a puppy into your home”.

    should read as:

    “You have to do your own research before making decision about bringing a puppy into your home”.

    Yes, Emiliano, I think it doesn’t matter how many times I change the sentence it might still be wrong.

  24. Elvis Johnny says:

    Thanks a lot, Betty, I’ m delighted with that you are going to be able to my an another wonderful teaching of englsih here with the exception of “Warren,Jeff,Lucy”.
    I like it when you when you were genuinely trying to help a fledging in his English learning like me.
    I love your elegant words—-plain with stong power, more importantly, comprehensible to me.

    unluckily, the problems have been still in the air..
    It would definitely not your fault, i promise.
    the reason for uncomprehension is likely to be my terrible “grammar” on The Present Continuous Tense

    we are going to be later————-we will be late.
    we are not going to be late———-we won’t be late.

    you are going to put one over on mom. ————— you want to play hooky ,fool mom
    you are not going to put one over on mom.———– you won’t want to fool mom— you won’t do this.

    ah-huh, after this kind of comparison, i’m feeling understandable of this promblem.

    at last i am going to thank you one more time, my adroable teacher, super Betty!!

  25. Myo ko ko says:

    Yup, thank you, too, the team.
    The problem seems to have gone when the last time I check the blog.
    Now I think I can take deep breath and says: “Thank God!” and “This is a very responsible website. 🙂 🙂 🙂 ”
    Right, Betty? 😉

  26. emiliano says:

    It is so extrange that it seems incredible.

    The other day I was speaking with Cuca about the possibility of adopting a puppy and being so if the little dog
    could have a good care by my part.
    I do not like to go out from home frequently, even now that the weather here in Madrid is absolutely cold
    (- 6º C some early mornings) I hate the idea of going for a walk sooner than 11 a.m. three or four times a week.
    With a puppy it should be necessary at least to walk three times by day in order to make the dog the chance
    of doing his necessities.
    Thinking and talking with Cuca about this matter, suddenly Gatufo started to cry continously and came to us.
    Yes that is absolutely true. The cat was looking through the window apparently absent from us, but he came
    close to me and he begun to cry as never I have seen him before or thought he could do such a noise like a cry.

    Could any anybody imagine how does a cat cry?, well it is difficult of imagine but the poor cat was crying aloud and
    continously, so I took him from the floor and tried to comfort the cat caressing and saying Gatufo nice words in a low voice.

    Cuca and me were astonished don´t giving any credit to the scene we were watching.
    I took me a while to comfort the poor Gatufo and trying to stop the crying by saying the cat I was not going to have
    another little animal inside, that he was the only one allowed to be at home with us.

    Well, I know this is absolutely odd and have not any explanation but it is true.

    I do not know how the cat understands nearly everything that happened at home, yes that is an absolute mistery.


    Thank you Betty, I like so much the idea of having a dog that is an absolute temptation despite the cold mornigs
    of this city.

    Jesus, that´s true we speak the same language but it is possible that you speak it in a better way than us, despite
    it comes from my country.
    All countries of Latino-America care the language very much, even much more than here in my own nation.
    You have a good large vocabulary that gives the language something really special and it reflex in writers
    who give a magic rich use of the language, I love your accent either.

    My best friends.


  27. Jesús says:

    Thanks Emiliamo for your kind words.

    Your story about Gatufo is unbelievable!! It proves the animals also have feelings, even though they can´t understand us.
    In your case, it proves that Gatufo is really comfortable with you at home 🙂

    Best regards

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