In the summer of 2016, twenty nine Watsonville students ages 7 to 19, from a dozen different schools, met twice a week for six weeks to learn how to play woodwind and brass instruments under the instruction of members of the Watsonville Community Band (WCB). Most of these students had never touched an instrument before. Others started learning music in programs at Hall District Elementary School, Linscott Charter School, and Watsonville Charter School for the Arts and took advantage of the opportunity to continue their music education through the summer.

Once the summer program ended, we found that we couldn’t just let it go. So we have continued to meet with the students throughout the school year on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 7 pm at the Watsonville High School band room before regular (adult band) rehearsals. The Youth Band students gave a commendable first performance at the WCB December concert at the Mello Center in Watsonville. They put on a good show that was enjoyed by all. If you missed that debut performance, don’t worry! You have another opportunity to hear these young people play at the WCB spring concert on April 23rd. The Youth Band will start right at 2:00, and the adult band will come on immediately after them.

Our goal in starting the Watsonville Youth Band was to give students in Watsonville the opportunity to learn band instruments, and to be an ally to the PVUSD in their efforts to bring music back into the schools. Numerous studies have shown that the brain training involved in playing an instrument carries over into students’ ability to succeed and excel in other subjects. But we in the Watsonville Community Band know as well as anybody that music is its own reward. Watsonville’s children deserve to have strong music programs in school like most of us had.

The Watsonville Community Band will continue to support the Watsonville area community with the 2017 Summer Youth Music Program. The 6 week program will meet three times per week in June and July, providing enough time to hone skills and get the students into a regular routine of practicing and rehearsing. The summer program will also offer the opportunity to a new crop of beginning students from throughout the school district. We will have different leveled groups for students of all ages and abilities. Any students within the PVUSD, 4th grade through high school, are welcome to join us.

We ask for a small materials fee of $25 if students can afford it, but the band members all volunteer their time to teach. Several WCB band members also volunteer during the school day at Hall District Elementary School and Pajaro Middle School, two PVUSD schools that have begun the process of bringing back music education. It will, of course, take years to recreate a thriving music education department in the district. But we like to think that the volunteer efforts of our Watsonville Community Band members are making that development process smoother and faster. It is well worth it to see the world of music opening up for these children.