Dubuque Community School District Foundation
Deb Stevens says her first instrument when she was growing up in Detroit was the garage. “From trash can lids to wood piles, I made music with whatever I could find,” she says.
This passion led her to take up the clarinet, trumpet, trombone, tuba, euphonium and percussion, pursuits that wouldn’t have been possible without the use of school instruments. “There was always an instrument available for use, even throughout college,” she says. “I’m incredibly grateful for that.”
Now band director at Washington Middle School, Deb was thrilled when she learned that a gift to the Dubuque Community School District Foundation would purchase instruments for the district and allow more children to participate in music programs. Local philanthropists Mark and Cheryl Falb teamed up with Chad and Laura Chandlee and Kendall Hunt Publishing Company to make the three-year pledge; a Dubuque Racing Association grant added an additional $21,142.
After surveying Washington’s percussion instruments, many of which are more than 50 years old and held together with duct tape and straws, Deb requested a three-and-a-half octave Yamaha xylophone.
Seth Taylor, a talented eighth-grade percussionist at Washington, was elated with the new acquisition. “It’s a lot more fun to play on something that looks and sounds nice,” he says. Seth’s impressive solo performances on the instrument have sparked interest in percussion music among students, prompting Deb to plan a new before-school drum line open to students without previous music experience.
“I’m not even sure I can explain what a great gift this is,” says Seth. “It’s allowing people to discover a talent they didn’t know they had.”