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Walnut Creek Northgate High student filling void in music education programs

Northgate HS student filling void in district’s music education programs
Northgate HS student filling void in district’s music education programs 03:22

WALNUT CREEK -- Sophomore students at Northgate High School have been tasked with a community service project that revolves around something that inspires them to make a change to the world.

One 15-year-old, Aidan Fisher, has made it is his mission to put instruments into the hands of students who may otherwise not get the chance to experience the impact of music in their lives. 

"I have been playing for five years now," Fisher says as he prepares his saxophone for his band class.  

This Spring, Mount Diablo Unified School District voted that cuts for next school year would include eliminating music programs for 4th grade, eliminating the Diablo Day Program – an alternative school for high-risk kids and eliminating librarians from middle and high school libraries.

At the time of the board's vote, the district said it was operating at a deficit of about $20 million per school year, partly due to declining enrollment.

Fisher knew he had to do something to get other kids the opportunity to play.

"4th grade music got cut so I am just trying to donate them so that more people can get more interested in music just like I am," Fisher told KPIX. 

Fisher's mother, Monaliza Fisher, is helping her son with his instrument drive. 

"We had a number of people drop off their instruments here," she said. "We got this storage space just to hold the instruments that Aidan is collecting."

After posting on local social media sites, Aidan's project got a good response from his community.  Many people have donated instruments to his cause. One woman, who lives just down the street donated her guitar and a new Yamaha keyboard.  

"I was a singer, that was my instrument," Phyllis Amon said. 

At 81-years-old, Amon can't put her favorite instruments to use any longer. The guitar she would play to accompany her voice was getting too hard to play on her hands, now that she is arthritic. 

This photo was taken in the 70s," explains Amon as she looks at an old photo of herself with a guitar.  "Look at her, she is happy, look at that joy she has."

Amon is well aware of the gift the sound of music can do for those creating it. 

"When you are singing, when you get into the music, you are inside it practically," Amon said.  "It's amazing."

The Concord resident is now vocal about the strain on students not having the right avenues for them to express themselves because of a lack of resources in schools.

"I don't think they understand how important it is to have the arts," Amon said.

Amon worries this year's cuts to 4th grade music classes is just the beginning of more to come. 

"If you feel like an outsider, this is a way maybe that you could feel you belonged," Amon said.

Aidan Fisher is following in Amon's footsteps.  His daily routine for his 6th Period class is Jazz Band 2, practicing for an hour at school every day.

He found joy in music and gets the opportunity to explore this talent of his through his music program. 

"Music is one of my favorite things in the world, I like to play jazz, I love to listen to jazz," Fisher said.  "Especially 6th period, it is like my final thing and I get to play this and it makes me really happy."

He wants other students to have the chance to pick up an instrument too. 

"I really want it to be an important factor in many other lives as well," Fisher said.  "Knowing that I can give it to people that really want to use it or otherwise cannot with afford it or can't get one." 

It is through music that Fisher and his band of classmates have found a place of acceptance and unity within their love of the notes they play.

"All my friends that I have right now are from music and I would definitely not have them today if it wasn't for music," Fisher said. 

To donate used musical instrument's to Aidan's community service project, you can contact Monaliza Fisher at

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