Trish Yerges
The La Grande Observer

Imbler High School’s music program teacher Becky Mullarkey recently received grant funding that was sweet music to her ears.

The high school now has much-needed new music instruments, thanks to $9,236 in grant money.

“The Imbler Education Foundation (IEF) helped the Imbler music program complete grant applications to the Wildhorse Foundation and Soroptomist International,” member Kathy Christensen said.

Christensen initiated the IEF grant application for the music program. The IEF is led by board members: president Liz Sullivan, vice president Julia Novotny, treasurer Rick Denis, secretary Linnea Denis and additional members Josh Burright and Jeff Whitaker.

Christensen said she felt optimistic the grant application would be favorably considered by the Wildhorse Foundation because in the past two years, the Foundation had successfully applied for $20,000 from Wildhorse for the purchase of a plasma cutter for J.D. Cant’s agriculture class and about $1,500 for Lego robotics for Nancy McDonald’s’ seventh and eighth grade science classes.

Since public schools can apply for only one grant per school year from Wildhorse, Christensen suggested this year’s focus should be a grant for the music program.

“We turned the application in to Wildhorse before the April 1 deadline, and heard back from them right at the beginning of the school year, so we ordered the instruments,” Christensen said.

Not only did the music program receive the full requested grant amount of $8,536.05 from the Wildhorse Foundation, but also $200 from the Soroptomist’s Small Donations Committee, and an added bonus gift of $500 from Imbler’s Parent Action Committee.

With the combined funds, Mullarkey purchased instruments from Musician’s Friend online, including a drum set, a euphonium, a baritone, a pair of Timpani drums and a storage cart with wheels to hold and transport the sheet music stands. She said the instruments make a unique addition to the program.

“I wanted instruments the school never had, that were different and would add to each of the songs,” Mullarkey said. “We’ve never had timpani drums before, and they make a huge difference in the sound of the song.”

The baritone and euphonium provide some of the lower tones necessary for a fuller, richer-sounding song, and they are easier for kids to hold than a trombone. The former drum set was in poor condition after much use, and Mullarkey wanted a higher quality drum set that would last longer.

“We just got the drum set last week,” Christensen said, adding that the drums are pretty popular among the kids.

“There is usually a line of kids wanting to play them,” she said.

See more in Monday's edition of The Observer.