HAYWARD -- After Hayward Unified trustees cut the elementary school instrumental program two years ago, Hayward High School music instructor Bryan Holbrook felt he had to do something "to save the music."

He recruited volunteer teachers, and in January 2011 they started an after-school instrumental program for fifth- and sixth-graders attending the high school's feeder schools.

"We had to make sure the kids had some kind of music experience before moving to the middle school," Holbrook said. "If we didn't do something, the middle school music program would suffer, and then my program would suffer."

On Wednesday, the school board unanimously agreed to fund the after-school lessons as a pilot program, expanding it to include the entire district. Most of the $45,000 will go to pay the music instructors, who have been donating their time.

"I was relieved and excited by the board's vote," Holbrook said. "Now we have to get to work."

A meeting is planned for interested elementary school students and their parents at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Hayward High cafeteria. Anyone with questions may contact Holbrook at 510-332-1325 or barisaxpoa@yahoo.com.

In addition, the district will begin figuring out how to establish programs at Tennyson and Mount Eden high schools, said Assistant Superintendent Matt Wayne.


Advertisement

"The next step will be meeting with Bryan and the other music teachers," Wayne said. "We're still in the planning stages. Our priority is to get as many kids access to this program as possible."

Wayne said the board has been discussing since last year what could be done to restore elementary school music lessons in some form.

Last year, about 60 students took part in the free weekly lessons at Hayward High, many of them playing instruments loaned by the district. When Wayne learned about the program, he proposed using it as a model for the entire district.

"Ideally, we would offer a program at the elementary school sites, but at least Bryan's program was serving kids and had established a good reputation," he said. "We want to see how we can make it work at the other high schools."

A jubilant Holbrook sent an email to Hayward High music boosters Thursday, ending the message with, "Time to rock 'n' roll with the elementary students!"

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.