2003-02-01 / Columnists

From the G-Man

By Gary G. Toms

By Gary G. Toms

'School Vibes': A Hot CD Project

Hey people! I have had the pleasure of attending cultural festivals and talent shows held at many of the Rockaway schools, and I was amazed at the level of musical talent displayed by the students. I was particularly impressed with the Beach Channel High School band and chorus. Whenever I had the opportunity to see and hear them, they often performed a number of selections to absolute perfection. My personal favorite was the theme from the motion picture "Shaft," which netted composer Isaac Hayes an Oscar for Best Original Score.

Recognizing that many music programs have been eliminated because of budget deficits and cuts in funding, I came up with an idea that just might rejuvenate interest and support for these programs. I pitched it to City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently, and he expressed a great deal of enthusiasm over the proposal. Hey "Jazzy", now that you've heard it, what can you and your City Hall posse do to make it happen? Have your people call my people, and let's try to figure something out. In the meantime, for the rest of you out there, here's my idea.

Imagine the possibilities if you could take school bands, like the one at B.C.H.S., and put them in a recording studio as part of an after-school project. Then, invite some of music's biggest stars, like Carlos Santana, Gwen Stefani, Usher, Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estefan, The Roots, Erika Badu, Quincy Jones and Kenny G., to join the students in a live "jam session."

Next, have a major record label or producer, like Sony or Jermaine Dupree, pick up and distribute the finished product. Utilizing shrewd marketing techniques, aimed primarily at the youth, there is a strong possibility that the positive aspects of the "School Vibes" CD series would generate a huge buzz in the music industry.

Once the music execs collected the rate of return on their investment, the remaining monies would go toward the continuation of music and arts programs in tri-state area schools. On a much broader scope, the project could be implemented nationwide, and the money generated would allow many students the opportunity to continue developing or enhancing their talents.

It's a win-win situation for all involved. The students, teachers, and administrators would no longer have to worry about fighting for grants or obtaining financial support from various sources because proceeds from CD sales would help keep these programs going. Moreover, some of the biggest stars in music could seize this as an opportunity to finally give back to their community, which would only help them in terms of public relations and future album/CD sales. The CD would also fend off a number of critics who feel that the music industry does nothing positive to help the youth of America.

Best of all, the Department of Education would incur no expense. All they would have to do is set things up accordingly, by obtaining a commitment from the record companies and producers, so the program could be initiated. Again, once everyone got their cut, the record companies would place the leftover money into a special fund for maintaining music and arts programs. The D.O.E. would not have any contact with the money, and that is a good thing.

When I attended Far Rockaway High School, the music and arts programs were an extremely important part of my life. They helped to nurture me, as a writer and as a DJ and remix specialist. Mrs. Shomburg and Mr. Rauch (my music and stage play directors at FRHS) stressed the need for music and art in a student's life.

"The two are intrical parts of the mind, body and soul. No matter what you do in life, you will always be surrounded by music and art," Rauch would say.

Shomburg would always nod in agreement.

I believe the two are every bit as important as they were back then. I have come to appreciate them even more, and I have NO DOUBT (no pun intended) that the School Vibes CD series would help enhance the lives of today's students, the educational system, and music and arts programs.

See you next week!

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