Finding creative ways to give back is practically baked into the DNA of the Loyola Marymount University Music Department. So, when a capital improvement opportunity came along earlier this year to upgrade equipment and replace all the keyboards within the department’s labs, Chair T.J. Harper set to work finding new homes for the completely functional, high-quality instruments that were being replaced.
Working in concert with Bryant Keith Alexander, dean of the LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts, and Darin Earley, director of LMU Family of Schools, Harper donated six keyboards to WISH Academy High School in Westchester; five went to the Westside Global Awareness Magnet in Marina del Rey; and the remainder found a home in the LMU Theatre Arts department for in-house purposes. The new lab at LMU offers state-of-the-art instruments for music majors, minors, as well as non-majors who are taking the piano experience course.
At WISH Academy, the keyboards will be used for several music and theatre classes, including “Jazz and Pop Band,” “Choir,” and “String Ensemble.” “Our music department is very grateful to receive this incredible gift from LMU,” said Markus Illko, head of music at WISH Academy. “Due to a growing number of students taking music courses, there is a high demand for instruments, and more than 70 students will benefit each year from this donation. Playing an instrument will allow superior character development, academic, physical, mental, and emotional fulfillment, and this donation will have a huge impact on our school.”
This donation is part of larger effort by LMU Music to engage more local high school students in musical experiences at the university level. In December, WISH Academy will hold their Christmas concert in Murphy Recital Hall, and students will have the opportunity to rehearse with the LMU Consort Singers, in addition to benefiting from an expanded relationship with LMU Music, including partaking in instrumental ensemble rehearsal.
“We are consistently seeking ways to close the gap a little bit between where these students are now, and where they aspire to be, including their ability to be part of the full university experience,” said Harper. “We think it’s so important to demystify the university experience for these kids.”