Over the last decade, schools across the nation have experienced the loss of music. The San Diego schools also had to replace music in many of its schools with other curriculum dictated by the state or federal law. The San Diego schools’ budget only stretches so far and, unfortunately, the arts have felt the biggest hit.
Frank Glasson and the Presidio Brass are changing all of that for the San Diego schools. A trumpet player by profession, Frank is also president of Local 325 of the American Federation of Musicians and director of Presidio Brass, a brass quintet. The veteran musician has performed with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, the San Diego Opera, and San Diego’s Westwind Brass, as well as ensembles in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Glasson saw that music was steadily disappearing from the San Diego schools and wanted to do something about it. He believes that the constant influence of television, movies, computers and CDs could erode the senses of youth to the more refined music. He enlisted the help of the other members of Presidio Brass – Ray Nowak, Mike McCoy, Sean Reusch, and Scott Sutherland, who play the trumpet, French horn, trombone, and tuba, respectively.
Working under the umbrella of the nonprofit San Dieguito Performing Arts Association, Presidio Brass developed the “Musicate the Mind” program for the San Diego schools. Musicate is an educational and musical outreach program, developed specifically to fill the musical void in the schools. With Glasson’s wife Robyn coordinating the events and developing contracts with the San Diego schools, Presidio Brass presents various customized programs for the different grade levels that fits any educational or outreach school requirement.
Glasson and his ensemble need to create relationships with the San Diego schools students, not just play music for them. In that relationship, he hopes the children will grow to appreciate live music and keep it alive by becoming tomorrow’s supporters of live instrumental music. He plans to eventually do 200 programs per yr all over Southern California.
For kindergartners through fifth graders, Presidio Brass introduces the brass instruments, their development, and historical context. The quintet members also give any basic musical concepts in a fun and engaging manner.
For fourth and fifth graders, the ensemble can integrate music into the core curriculum by teaching language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science through the language of music.
For middle and high schoolers, they present their Residency-for-a-Day program, which exposes San Diego schools students to the brass quintet. The hope is to inspire students to promote and cultivate their own musical abilities. Additionally, they need to give encouragement and instruction to those already playing instruments, knowing that such support is crucial.
For high schools, Presidio Brass gives master classes and concerts for their school orchestras and bands.
Though Glasson and the Presidio Brass quintet are in other school districts as well, the San Diego schools and their students will benefit greatly from this unique outreach musical program.