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Enjoy Magazine

4th Annual Music and Merlot Fundraiser

10/01/2013 01:41PM ● By Enjoy Magazine
Do you remember how the recorder, that whistle-like instrument that produces clear, sweet sounds, felt on your lips? Do you remember the way your small hands navigated the finger holes as you learned to play the most basic songs? And do you remember the pride you felt when you mastered “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”? Just as it was when you were a young student, music is an integral part of any child’s education. Music keeps kids engaged in school, develops well-rounded individuals and encourages vital life skills. No one understands this better than Abbie Ehorn, a music teacher in the Evergreen Union School District, who has spearheaded a grassroots effort to keep music alive in three Cottonwood schools.

Since 2010, Ehorn and countless volunteers have collaborated to raise funds for Evergreen’s music program that, like other music programs nationwide, has been threatened by federal and state budget cuts.

“Music and Merlot has become one of Cottonwood’s most anticipated community events,” says Ehorn. “Everyone contributes to make the fundraiser and our music program a success.”

Tara Dacy, an Evergreen parent and fundraiser coordinator, adds, “Parents sell tickets, and students who have already graduated come back to park cars, serve food and clean up.”

Proceeds from Music and Merlot make it possible for Ehorn to offer music instruction to 1,000 Cottonwood children each year. For one hour a week, students learn music appreciation, voice, recorders, world music, drumming, guitar, dance and musical theater in a nurturing environment where they are encouraged to express themselves creatively.

“When children come to music, it’s like they’re coming to get a cool drink of water,” says Ehorn.

To provide that “drink,” Ehorn has structured her program to be process-based rather than performance based, which has long been the standard method of teaching in public schools. “With performance-based learning, there is less whole-child learning and less creativity in the classroom,” she says. “I want students to have a joyful musical experience every day. I want them to have the freedom to be in the moment with their music, to be able to improvise and to grow a lifelong love of music.”

Evergreen offers music education to every child in the district, from kindergarten through 8th grade. “Our administration knows the importance of music and they have really fought to keep it,” says Ehorn.

But it takes more than administration to keep music in the classroom. “The community is enthusiastic about the program,” says Dacy, whose daughter Sydnee has been Ehorn’s student since kindergarten. “Not only does the community love the music program, they have fallen in love with Abbie... They see value in teaching music to their children and they believe in what she is doing.”

So, this month, under twinkling lights and starry skies, Ehorn, Dacy, school staff, parents, volunteers and others will raise their glasses to toast music, community and the continued success of Evergreen’s music program at the 4th Annual Music and Merlot fundraiser.

The event, which promises to be “more fun than you’ve had in a long time, and all for a great cause,” will be held at the beautiful JBL Ranch in Cottonwood. Admission includes a complimentary glass of wine in a keepsake glass and a Tuscan-inspired Italian dinner complete with handmade mini chocolate Amaretto and limoncello cakes for dessert, all provided by The Cottonwood Eatery.

Live and silent auctions and a raffle will give event goers a chance to contribute to the music program and win prizes donated by locals and businesses like Burnsini Vineyards, Logo USA, JBL Ranch and Laundry World. Prizes include a seven-day stay at a Hawaiian vacation condo, houseboat vacations on Shasta Lake, golf and stay packages at Rolling Hills, scenic airplane rides, concert tickets, autographed musical instruments and more than 20 themed baskets.

Of course, Music and Merlot wouldn’t be complete without music. Indigo Brew will provide live jazz, and Ehorn and friends will be around to serenade the crowd. •

Music and Merlot Saturday, Oct. 12, 5 pm Tickets $45; available at Elegant Bean in Cottonwood, Evergreen elementary and middle school offices, or by calling (530) 347-3411 •