SAN LUIS OBISPO — Bringing music education to school children just got a lot easier with the use of a former PG&E vehicle donated to the San Luis Obispo Symphony.
On Thursday (Nov. 29), PG&E turned over the keys of the 2008 Dodge Caravan – once part of the utility’s vehicle fleet — to the symphony. And fourth-graders at Pacheco Elementary School got a close-hand look.
The van, worth about $7,000, will be used to transport orchestral instruments to school children as part of the symphony’s music education program.
Pacheco students marveled at the bevy of instruments that had just been delivered to their classroom. They included a cello, violins, various woodwinds, brass and percussion instruments, which the children were allowed to play.
PG&E’s John Conway, senior vice president of energy supply, talked to the students about the importance of music education and even led the class in an orchestral piece. Conway is on the board of directors for the San Luis Obispo Symphony.
The symphony’s music education program has been around nearly 30 years bringing instruments and entertainment to thousands of third- and fourth-graders each year. But the program has relied on donated or rented vehicles that weren’t always so reliable. The last vehicle used to transport instruments to classrooms was 15 years old, had more than 200,000 miles on it and had begun failing.
“Sometimes you just need a thing, not money so much. The music van donation by PG&E is one of those times,” said Jim Black, executive director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony.
Black told students that the shiny new van sitting outside at the school was the reason these instruments made it to their classroom.
Between January and March next year, the music education program will once again hit the road. Black said when the van is not in service to a school, it will be used by the symphony to transport people and supplies to a special event. “It is a critical asset and I can’t thank PG&E enough for responding so quickly when asked for help. It is another indication of how much they strive to have a positive impact on the communities they serve,” he said.
Conway stressed the importance of music education. “An appreciation of music enriches our lives as children and adults. In addition, studies have shown that music education improves academic achievement, particularly in the areas of science and math,” he said.
In addition to the 30 fourth-grade students at Thursday’s event, symphony staff and board members were present along with Julian Crocker, San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools.