Couple keep Music Alive for third- and fourth-graders
Pamela and Doug Stubbs are quite a team. They finish each other’s sentences, laugh together at memories from long ago, and share one passion: music. More specifically, kid’s faces when they hear music.
While Pamela completed a celebrated career as a professional pianist, Doug jokes that he’s just the chauffeur in their quest to bring classical music to the Ramona community.
As Pamela flips through the pages of her tidy scrapbook, she begins to tell the story of Music Alive and how it came to be more than 10 years ago.
“When we moved to Ramona in 1997, we discovered there was not much exposure to classical music in schools and, as musicians ourselves, we really thought it would be great to bring it to the community and knew people would enjoy it,” she said.
Thus began her and her team’s work to start Music Alive.
The nonprofit program funds professional, often San Diego Chamber Orchestra, groups to come to Ramona elementary schools each year. For two days, the hired musicians play their hearts out for all six schools.
After their 30-minute session, they invite students to ask questions.
“It’s very fun for kids,” said Pamela. “The musicians involve them and even let them conduct. They love that.”
Doug chimed in, “It’s so worthwhile, the looks on their faces. You just have to see them to know they enjoy it.”
“If children hear beautiful music, they love it,” added Pamela. “It is fun to see their faces. And their questions, they are so involved!”
The concerts are given to approximately 200 students in the third and fourth grades. The Stubbs have designed it this way because it is the perfect age to expose kids to music, as they can start playing an instrument in the fifth or sixth grade.
They hope that over the years they have sparked an interest that may not have been born unless the children saw the concerts. They certainly have received letters of thanks, which is more than enough for them.
To keep it interesting, they rotate groups each year. Some years it is string performances, others it may be brass or woodwinds. They also showcase duos, trios, quartets and so on. Whatever the combination, they always know it will be fun and entertaining.
“This year they presented kids with music from around the world,” said Doug. “The performers had fun. They wore green hats from Ireland and Russia and brought an African instrument for the kids to explore.”
“One year we had a quartet of young ladies that dressed up in baseball uniforms,” said Pamela. “They said that playing music was like playing a sport. You had to practice hard, have a coach, train. It was great.”
They haven’t always solely focused on the elementary schools. For many years they put together Young Artist Concerts to showcase some of Ramona’s superior high school talents like Tim Haas, Bethany Tennebaum, Carrie Pankrast and members of the LaGuardia family. But, because of low attendance they decided to cancel the event but hope one day to bring it back.
Right now, they just want to make sure Music Alive stays afloat, even during these tough economic times, and judging from their passion, they will do whatever it takes.
The program is mostly funded through individual contributions but there are also donations from the music unions via the Music Performance Fund.
But it’s Pam and Doug who provide lunches, transportation and time to ensure the musicians keep coming back.
Pamela dreams of having a corporate sponsor.
“It would be a drop in the bucket for them to fund it, and it would be so beneficial,” she said.
Concert performances are over for this school year, they are gearing up for next year.
Anyone who would like to donate or help out with the program may contact Pamela at 760-788-2089.
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