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Schools

Mitzvah Project Scores For Music

New non-profit

aims to replace lost

school funds

Elimination of the school district’s elementary music programs due to budget cuts was not music to seventh grader Aden Horowitz’s ears. Aden, age 12, an avid violin and piano player, and a recent a graduate of Shelter Rock Elementary School, learned of the district’s plans through friends while on the bus to school.

“Kids were saying, did you hear about the budget cuts, they’re cutting the music program. I was so devastated because I had had such a great experience. I felt like I needed to do something”, lamented Aden.  

Losing elementary music programs is not an option for Aden. So, as a member of the Reconstructionist Synagogue of North Shore in Manhasset, Aden decided to make saving the Manhasset music program her mitzvah project. Students who reach their 13th birthday – the age at which they have a bar/bat mitzvah – are required to choose a project aimed at making the community or world in which we live a better place.

“I want to do something great for the community,” said Aden. With the help of her mother, Lisa Zornberg, a lawyer, and Mary Margiotta, a fellow Manhasset parent, Aden founded the “Manhasset Save the Music Fund”, a not-for-profit association formed for the express purpose of supporting music programming in the Manhasset public schools.  According to the school district $13,000 is needed to fully restore Jazz ensemble and Chamber Chorus for the 2013-2014 school years. To date Aden has raised $6,000 in checks and pledges, a resounding achievement in a very short time.

“I’m logging in each pledge and check and sending a thank you note to each donor,” Aden said proudly. Aden hopes to present a check at the Board of Education’s meeting in September.  

As a result of the June 2013 budget vote, Shelter Rock and Munsey Park elementary schools were forced to reduce the districts well-established music programs – fourth grade band and orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, and Chamber Chorus. “Quote from Dr. Ambrosia” Jazz Ensemble has existed in the Manhasset School district for nearly 30 years. Students in the fifth and sixth grades must audition for the Ensemble, which performs at the spring concert and annual SCA fair.  Chamber Chorus has also been a mainstay in the Manhasset Schools. For 15 years, Chamber Chorus has been training sixth graders in advanced vocal music. Up to 100 students perform annual concerts including the December holiday concert, the spring concert, and at charity events for the elderly at nursing homes. Over the years these programs have been instrumental in enriching thousands of students in the performing arts.

But for Aden, the music must go on. No stranger to music, raised by musical parents Lisa Zornberg and Matthew Horowitz, Aden began playing the piano in kindergarten. “My parents always played piano in the house, so I thought that was awesome”, chimed Aden, whose younger brother Ethan, age 10, will enter fifth grade and also plays the piano and trumpet.

Anxious to expand her musical talents, Aden while at Shelter Rock, took bow in hand and learned to play violin with Mr. Quinn. As a Jazz ensemble piano player, for Aden and her friends, it was nothing but fun, “The jazz band was really great because we practice after school with kids in a small room, playing cool music,” sparkled Aden, a nod to the joys of bonding with fellow musicians performing, something not easily taught in a classroom. “We perform at the SCA and everyone gets to see how cool it is”.

Perhaps most fitting to Aden’s challenge is a bust of Beethoven, resting on her family’s upright piano, a subtle reminder that through adversity, Beethoven overcoming deafness, one can achieve anything.  With help from her family and friends, Aden hopes to strike a chord with the community. As she writes her symphony for saving these cherished programs, she is committed to safeguarding the sounds of music. “In Manhasset, we shouldn’t be saying ‘oh well’ or ‘too bad’ in response to our best school programs being cut. We should do everything we can to save them.”

Johann Sebastian Bach is quoted as saying, “It’s all easy to play any musical instrument, all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.” Aden seems to be touching all the right keys.