GUEST COMMENTARY: Groovin’ on the Point goes a long way toward ailing school budgets
by Judy Fisher, Point Loma
Jun 26, 2013 | 2937 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Young musicians around the Peninsula are getting plenty of opportunities for mentoring and playing time at various venues, thanks to a coordinated effort by local adult musicians and volunteers eager to boost music exposure for area students.                      Courtesy photo
Young musicians around the Peninsula are getting plenty of opportunities for mentoring and playing time at various venues, thanks to a coordinated effort by local adult musicians and volunteers eager to boost music exposure for area students. Courtesy photo
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How come, in the face of continuing budget cuts to San Diego schools, music seems to be thriving extremely well on the Peninsula? Is it a phenomenon of this area to have such an abundance of musical talent, or is it that we have the resources and interest to develop the kids’ creativity?

First, we have amazing, committed music teachers that bring out the best in their students. The kids want to be involved in the music program, and every year there are more students signing up for music classes than can be accommodated. Ruben Flores at Dana Middle School gives the kids a great foundation that Correia Middle School builds on. Then, they are ready to move on to Point Loma High School with James Sepulvedo.

Then there is the First Friday Music Club, founded by professional bass player Glen Fisher, who started his musical career at Point Loma High School in Larry Zeiger’s musical theater class and as the bassist of Fish and the Seaweeds, a local rock band. He went on to study music at UCSD and the Vienna Academy of Music.

As he raised his three daughters in Point Loma, Fisher realized there was no place for youth to listen to quality live music and decided to start the First Friday Music Club (FFMC), a nonprofit group, with a mission to enhance and supplement educational deficiencies in local school music programs. The FFMC hires professional musicians to assist teachers, conduct workshops and give students unique performance-training opportunities. The organization has teamed for several years now with Correia Middle School to bring professional artists to conduct workshops, as well as organize performances with artists like Grammy Award-winner Bryan Lynch, Grammy Award nominees Delfeayo Marsalis and Bill Watrous, and internationally acclaimed local trumpeter and educator Derek Canon.

Many of Fisher’s students, all performing at various FFMC events, have their own bands now, including The Blonde Brothers, RevoltAge, 140 Yards and Lightning Starts Fire. There are also adult bands coming out of the FFMC, like Mothers of Intention, Rhythm Method and The Openers.

Lust for Life is one of several other local adult bands chiming in to raise funds for music in local schools. Its founder and lead singer, Kerry McKay, started the original Temple of the Dad about seven years ago, with the goal of helping bridge the funding gap in the local school music programs. About a year ago, Lust for Life evolved from the original band with its sole purpose of donating time and proceeds to benefit organizations in need.

In its short time of existence, the band has raised $2,500, with Correia Middle School being one of the beneficiaries. Lead singer and founder McKay and band members, who include lead guitarist Scott Meyer, bassist Vince Escalera and drummer Dennis Key, all have children in Point Loma neighborhood schools. Vocalist Marisa Vernec is a teacher and rhythm guitarist and vocalist Kirk Norton just enjoys helping and playing music.

The Point Loma Association is another example of support. In 2011, the organization decided to add a junior stage to its Summer Concerts Series to highlight the musical talent the Peninsula has to offer. But the association didn’t stop there. It also donates several thousand dollars every year to local nonprofits and schools to support music programs.

For all those talented youth bands to perform and adult bands to have fundraisers, it takes venues that allow kids to attend and perform. Richard Irby, former manager of Humphreys Backstage Live and parent, recognized the need for a performance venue. Every first Saturday afternoon of the month, FFMC students get a chance to perform at Humphreys.

The management of Humphreys gives young musicians an opportunity to perform and has been a great venue for fundraising. Other local restaurants have followed its lead. Old Venice and Pete’s Grill also offer local musicians a place to play.

Whatever the reason, music is popping up everywhere on the Point — Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego, Paper Moon Music, Electric Ladyland, Recreational Music at Liberty Station and Band at the Beach.

For more information, visit www.firstfridaymusicclub.com.

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