Grant funds LPOHS music program

Musician Doug Bond sits with his soon-to-be Lake Pend Oreille High School students. (Photo by CAMERON RASMUSSON)

SANDPOINT — As valuable an experience as music education can be, it’s often the first to go by the wayside when funding is tight.

That won’t be the case for students at Lake Pend Oreille High School very soon. Thanks to a grant from musician Brandi Carlile’s foundation Looking Out, students will have a full year of music education ahead of them. Local musician Doug Bond will begin giving one two-hour music lesson a week — hopefully starting in December.

To make the process easier, Lake Pend Oreille High School could use any old instruments residents may have lying around unused. Acoustic guitars will be the highest priority, although the class will also likely need mandolins. A djembe or two — skin covered goblet drums — couldn’t hurt either, and all donations are appreciated. Call Lake Pend Oreille High School at 263-6121 if you have any items you’d be willing to donate.

The idea for the class started when Lake Pend Oreille High School teacher Randy Wilhelm began taking private music classes from Bond. He quickly became impressed with the musician’s ability to communicate the complicated aspects of music.

Wilhelm began exploring ways to bring Bond’s skills into the classroom. He finally landed at Looking Out, a foundation established by Carlile in 2008. The foundation’s mission is to address chronically underserved communities or groups of people by supporting the arts, women, public health, the hungry and the homeless. One dollar of every Carlile ticket sold goes to support the foundation.

Wilhelm recently learned his request was approved — the proceeds proved sufficient to establish a year of musical education at Lake Pend Oreille High School.

Wilhelm plans to continue searching for grants and foundations to help him extend the program.

“The kids here are very musical,” Wilhelm said. “To have a guy like Doug come in and give lessons is a really great thing.”

Bond is also eager to be a part of local musical education. A local musicians since the early ’90s, Bond was first exposed to Sandpoint when he and his band Pumpkin Ridge played the Festival at Sandpoint in 1992. During his time in town, he met the woman he would eventually marry and moved to Sandpoint a year later.

Since then, he has played the Festival at Sandpoint six times, most recently opening for Kenny Loggins.

His wide base of musical knowledge, from classic rock to bluegrass, helps him connect with a variety of students, he said. One longtime student Holly McGarry, recently  a full-ride scholarship to Berkeley School of Music.

“It always helps to know the kind of music kids like,” he added.

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