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‘Musicality’ benefit concert Oct. 6 in Parishville

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PARISHVILLE - For nearly as long as she can remember, music has been an important part of Amanda J. Mason’s life.

But with the state’s fiscal crisis, schools are being forced to cut back spending on non-mandated programs such as music.

To help ensure the music program at her school can continue without having to make cuts, Amanda, 13, an eighth-grader at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School, is planning Musicality, a one-day concert and fundraising event set for Oct. 6 at the Parishville Recreational Park.

“I’ve always felt I needed to connect to something, and I’ve grown up with country music,” she said. “The way the singers sing their songs and write them from the heart I feel connected to it.”

Her connection with music, specifically country music, lead her to want to be a singer when she grew up.

“It’s funny because growing up we were always asked what we wanted to be, and I would always say singer. Everybody else changed their mind every year,” she said.

Amanda too would eventually change her mind, but just a little bit.

“By the fifth grade I decided I could broaden my horizons and say musician,” Amanda said.

She credited that change to her brother, Brad, who is now a college junior.

“My brother played the baritone sax in high school and the more I heard him play the more inspired I was to play like him,” she said.

However, now after playing the instrument, she said the competitive juices have kicked in.

“I feel like I need to beat him with it,” she said.

The inspiration she gained though from her brother and listening to music is something that she wants to make sure future generations of Parishville-Hopkinton students can enjoy.

Amanda said she was first approached about the idea of doing a fundraiser through the Kids Are Key program by her neighbor Daisy Cox, who is involved in the Community Action Angels, the agency overseeing Kids Are Key.

“Daisy Cox asked me if I would be interested in doing something because she knew I was in Girl Scouts and involved in the community,” Amanda recalled.

After deciding to do a Kids Are Key project, Amanda then spoke with another neighbor, Rich and Laurena Will. Mr. and Mrs. Will are ministers in the area, and Mr. Will is also involved with the Community Action Angels.

“Rich told me to think about it and pick something that means a lot to me,” she said. “I immediately thought of music.”

Don J. Cannamela, the instrumental music teacher at Parishville-Hopkinton, said he’s touched that one of his students would think of doing a fundraiser for the school’s music department.

“I thought it was a wonderful gesture on her part for thinking of us and taking this on,” he said.

Vocal and general music teacher Andrea Ellison agreed.

“It’s great that Amanda is trying to help us out,” she said. “I was surprised and really proud that she has taken that initiative. She has a lot of drive and it’s great to see that energy put to good work.”

Mr. Cannamela and Ms. Ellison said they’ve felt the impact of the state’s budget crisis in their departments.

“We’ve had to cut back on a lot of the extras we were doing like buying supplies and buying and repairing instruments,” Mr. Cannamela said.

Ms. Ellison has felt the impact at a far more personal level.

“I came from Canton because of a budget cut. I’m very thankful and grateful to have landed in Parishville,” she said. “Schools everywhere have been impacted by budget cuts, and music teachers are looking for ways to improve the instruments available in their classrooms.”

While Ms. Ellison teaches vocal music, she explained that she also teaches general music and incorporates instruments into her lessons at the elementary level.

When asked if he had any plans for the money raised by Musicality, Mr. Cannamela replied, “We’ll have to take a look and see where it is needed and how much she’s able to make, but I appreciate any help that she or anyone in the community can give us.”

St. Lawrence County Community Development Program Community Action Angels Coordinator Alicia Murphy said Amanda’s project is a perfect example of what Kids are Key is all about.

“The Kids are Key project is all about kids helping kids,” she said. “It encourages them to think beyond their immediate environments and recognize the unique needs of others. It teaches them the importance of volunteerism and creates our future for community leaders.”

Musicality, which was jump started with a $100 contribution from Community Action Angels as part of the Kids Are Key program, will include a car show, entertainment, food, “Gemini Cricket Ice Cream,” prizes and even music lessons for children from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission will be a suggested donation of $2 for adults and $1 for students. Children under four will be admitted for free.

However, in order to help make the event a success volunteers and donations are needed. Amanda said she’s looking for assistance in setting up prior to and cleaning up after the event, preparing and distributing food, ticket sellers, musical performers and people willing to give children short lessons on anything musical.

Performers already lined up include “Special Ed and Friends,” Brad Laddison and Shawn Reed, Nick Rycroft, Thames Nolan and Dann Walsh.

She’s also looking for donations from area businesses and individuals for prizes, as well as classic and antique car owners to display their vehicles that day.

In a solicitation letter sent to community members and businesses, Amanda wrote, “The most important thing in my life is music. Every way shape and form of music is important to me.”

She continued, “So I decided to organize a musical event for any musicians from the whole county to perform for Parishville and any neighboring community members who would like to come and watch.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at or contributing to the event may contact Amanda at 265-8755 or via email at ajm8775@gmail.com. Musicality also has an event page on Facebook that may be accessed by searching for “Musicality - A Benefit Concert.”

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