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Boy Scout wants to bring music to kids, starts instrument drive

Ian West with the donated instruments for his Play it Forward Eagle Scout project.
Ian West shows the donated instruments he collected from community members as part of his Play it Forward Eagle Scout project to help area kids learn to play music.
(Photo by Lisa West)

Ian West is collecting donated instruments as part of his Play it Forward Eagle Scout project

A Carlsbad Boy Scout who is an avid musician wants to bring music to more kids.

Ian West, 17, a member of Scout Troop 777 and drum major at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, is set on turning around declining enrollment in the marching band and other music programs at his school before he graduates in June.

“Our marching band should have 50 students, but we barely have 20,” said Ian, who leads the marching band and served as its president last year. “Our program suffers both from lack of funding and the ongoing pandemic. We even lost our growing choir program as a result.”

Ian is tackling the problem with a three-stage plan that he is deploying as part of his Eagle Scout Project. He calls the project “Play it Forward.”

As part of the first step, he is organizing a donation drive to collect used musical instruments from the community, with help from his troop and band. Since early this year, he has collected more than 50 instruments.

“I have been working to raise awareness on a local level, however, I feel that I need a greater outreach to maximize our success in the project and get donations of working instruments. There are kids and families that simply cannot afford to purchase or even rent an instrument. Having the resource to play music is such a gift, especially during these difficult times,” Ian said.

Ian has also been working with his band teacher, Charles Mekealian, on reorganizing the rehearsal space and storage areas in the music room to foster more camaraderie among fellow musicians.

He worked on improving the school’s perception of the music program, and the band has been getting new members from all different areas of the school’s academic and athletic programs, according to Ian.

Ian West, drum major at La Costa Canyon High School, with Band Director Charles Mekealian.

Ian West, drum major at La Costa Canyon High School, with Band Director Charles Mekealian.
(Photo by Lisa West)

“Our program is similar to most music programs across the state. We have all suffered a loss of students due to the pandemic and we are trying to rebuild and regain students and prospective students in our programs,” said Mekealian, band director at La Costa Canyon High School and Earl Warren Middle School. “To do that, we need the resources for these music students. With Ian’s program we will be many steps closer to being able to get new students in the band without having to make them go buy or rent an instrument.”

A big part of the project will be to clean and repair the donated instruments and lead a team of volunteers in that effort.

“Ian’s project is having a big impact. He is finding out that he can make a big difference in the community,” said Jeff Primes, Ian’s Eagle Scout mentor/project counselor.

The final step that Ian is working on is to lead a group of musicians to help instruct younger aspiring musicians with the help of his band teacher.

Ian plans on recruiting some older, more experienced musicians from La Costa Canyon High School to help give master classes to the younger musicians at Oak Crest and Diegueño middle schools.

“After Ian launched his instrument donation drive, his passion for his school’s music program was ever apparent. I am truly grateful for what he has done,” Mekealian said.

Ian plans to collect enough musical instruments to loan out to all students in the music program at La Costa Canyon High and to young musicians throughout San Diego County who can’t afford their own. His flyer about the instrument drive calls it “Helping Future Musicians Grow.”

“I want to help introduce them to the world of creating music,” Ian said.

To arrange to donate an instrument, email ianrwest2112@gmail.com or call Ian at (760) 798-5421. There is also a donation link to the La Costa Canyon High School Foundation at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=KUFM8JJRTL45U and a GoFundMe page, https://www.gofundme.com/f/play-it-forward-eagle-scout-service-project.


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