Switchfoot To Foster a Wave of Student Musicians

As a beginning musician, sixth grade student Arturo Palomares knows learning the saxophone takes practice and patience. Some notes are still a challenge, especially in front of an audience. In this case, the audience included Grammy award-winning band members from Switchfoot, who were at John J. Montgomery Elementary recently to provide inspiration and hear Arturo and his classmates play. Dressed in a dark suit and tie, Arturo certainly had the look of a budding sax player in a jazz club. If his notes are a work in progress, his smile is perfect every time. And maybe that’s the point. Music education has sparked something in Arturo and students across the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

2016 Arturo and Switchfoot

Sixth grade student Arturo Palomares (above) is learning the saxophone, and has already played in front of the Grammy Award-winning band Switchfoot.

“Music represents the world,” Switchfoot lead vocalist Jon Foreman told those in attendance. “Even if you don’t become a musician professionally, it allows you to express yourself and it’s a challenge that never goes away.”

Montgomery Elementary is among nine CVESD schools to receive a grant for musical instruments from the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, an outcome of the District’s partnership with the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory to restore in-school music instruction.

Switchfoot appeared at Montgomery with VH1 Save the Music Foundation executives to announce that the band will donate $25,000 to the Foundation toward another musical instrument grant for a CVESD school next year. Montgomery students, parents and staff members packed the auditorium for the special assembly. Before and after the performance, Switchfoot members interacted one-on-one with student musicians like Arturo, signed autographs, and posed for pictures. Foreman shared how music, art, and surfing were positive outlets that kept the band members engaged and focused when they were young. Education and music have been lifelong pursuits, he added. That’s why he wants to further the music education of today’s students.

“The students in Chula Vista, and students everywhere, deserve the opportunity to study music, and have it taught during the school day by a certified music teacher,” said Jaclyn Rudderow, of VH1 Save the Music Foundation. “The reason we are here is because of the commitment of the superintendent, the Board, and partners like the San Diego Youth Symphony, which has been working in the District from the beginning. We want to ensure every child across the District has the same opportunity to learn a musical instrument.”

Switchfoot’s annual charity surf contest and beach concert, called the “BRO-AM,” is scheduled for Saturday, July 9 in Encinitas. The Switchfoot BRO-AM Foundation will use a portion of the proceeds from the event to help fund the purchase of musical instruments for a school in CVESD. In addition, students will be invited to sing along on-stage with Switchfoot at the event.

The impact of Switchfoot’s support will be felt for years to come, District officials said.

“It has been a renaissance in the area of music education in our community, and Switchfoot’s involvement generates even more momentum for our Visual and Performing Arts,” said Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. “We’re already seeing a difference. Parent engagement has gone up. Attendance has gone up. Our students have been motivated through the arts. Creativity, collaboration, teamwork, perseverance—those soft skills improve through music. Music builds upon those skills. It can be life changing.”

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