Beyond the Books: Franklin Middle School receives $10k music grant

    Sixth grader Luke O'Brien performs 'You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch' in front of his Franklin classmates.

    Many students in Cedar Rapids are celebrating Christmas with family and friends.

    For Franklin Middle School in Cedar Rapids, the celebration started early with a Christmas concerts to kickoff the holiday break.

    Between singers, strings, and even Santas, arguably the biggest standout wasn't a person, but a piano.

    Until recently, students and staff at Franklin played an off-pitch, outdated piano.

    "We get it tuned a few times a year, but it doesn't stay," said music director Beth Davies, describing their primary piano from the late 70's. "Our pianos are old and they need to be replaced, but we just don't have the funds in our district to do it right now."

    Christmas came early in the form of VH1's Save the Music "Kids and Keys" $10,000 grant.

    "It would take us years and years and years to save up enough money to buy $10,000 worth of music equipment like this and so this grant has provided that for us," said Davies. "I was really excited about it."

    Davies isn't alone in her excitement, as students struggle to take their eyes off the shiny Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid Piano and three 3 Casio WK-7600 Music Workstations with gig bags.

    Sixth grade students Joslynn Ovel and Luke O'Brien are pianists for Jolt of Jazz, Franklin's Jazz 1 Band.

    They both agreed, the new keys bolster the strength of the band's sound.

    Davies said she was excited the school received the much-needed grant, adding "the kids really earned it."

    As many states move away from music, Iowa recently passed new educational standards, which now include fine arts as a core learning subject.

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