Three Unsung Heroes Bring Music Back To The Schools



Photos courtesy VOENA

Abundant research proves that music has a profound impact in education. Music study stimulates both the creative and technical sides of the brain, increases confidence, improves behavior, enhances literacy, boosts academic success and attendance rates, inspires joy, and builds school morale. Gratefully, our district is home to two thriving band programs—but there remains a shortage of music programs, and a few unsung champions are making a difference.

Annabelle Marie, founder of the renowned children’s choir VOENA, believes that all children are born with the tools they need to be successful in music. In 2012, she launched VOENA in the Schools, a grant-funded pilot program for grades 1-5 at Robert Semple and Mary Farmar elementary schools. Now VOENA’s vocal training program also has a presence at Matthew Turner and Joe Henderson, encompassing all four elementary sites, and Annabelle teaches a women’s choir at Liberty High School.

VOENA's Annabelle Marie

Stan and Marriane Houston own Mozart, Einstein & Me (formerly ABC Music), and over the years have made significant contributions to subsidize music education in Vallejo and Benicia schools. In Benicia they continue to donate musical instruments, help offset the cost of employing a band teacher for grades 4-5, and offer music scholarships for students in need. 


When Justine Chadly’s son was at Mary Farmar, General Music was cut from grades 3-5, and there was no music for grades K-2. As a music educator and owner of In Harmony Music, Justine volunteered by teaching voice, percussion, and movement. PTG members raised funds to hire her at Robert Semple, and now she’s teaching again at Mary Farmar.

While Annabelle, Stan and Justine are collaborating to make the largest impact in our schools, they are just one movement in an unfinished symphony.

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