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Since 2003, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation has been keeping the beat for school music programs by raising funds to pay for music instruction and collecting instruments for local school music programs.

Last year, the Keep the Beat Radiothon SBEF raised $16,000 in vital funding and brought in over 60 instruments during a two day in-person and on-air event on 99.9 KTYD.

With the current COVID restrictions, SBEF and KTYD have had to go back to the drawing board to ensure that the music keeps playing. Although music students are continuing their musical learning from a distance this school year, the needs have never been greater. This year, SB Unified music teachers have had to adapt more than just their lesson plans to teach students to learn music from home.

“Funds from Keep the Beat allowed us to purchase the necessary supplies to provide each elementary student with a take-home music kit for remote learning. Students have been excited to explore music via Zoom with their egg shakers, rhythm sticks, recorders, and drum sticks,” according to McKinley Elementary Music Teacher Karen Dutton. “Keep the Beat has been an incredible resource for music educators in the SB Unified School District. Through the yearly instrument drive, we have been able to put more instruments in the hands of our students.”

With so much depending on the annual event, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation will again join 99.9 KTYD Morning Mojo’s Lin Aubuchon and Bill Pesso for the entire month of February for the Keep the Beat Instrument Drive. The on-air event will serve as an awareness raiser and celebration for SB Unified’s young aspiring musicians. During the month-long radio event, SB Unified music teachers and local professional musicians will take to the airwaves to rally the community’s support of music education in local public schools.

SBEF will also continue to collect instruments for Santa Barbara Unified School District music education programs by hosting a contactless instrument donation site every Friday in February from 8 am to 2 pm at their offices at 1330 State Street.

“We hope that the community can come together to show some love to our students with the gift of music. Having an outlet, like music, can be such a huge benefit for a child, especially during this trying time we find ourselves in,” stated SBEF Executive Director Margie Yahyavi.

SBEF has secured funding for thousands of instruments for SB Unified music programs and has placed high-quality pianos in most schools, including the Steinway grand piano at the Dos Pueblos High School Elings Performing Arts Center. By providing campaign leadership for voter initiatives, SBEF helped bring millions in funding to the district for classroom enrichment, including art and music. Every elementary school student in SB Unified learns to play an instrument as part of their school day curriculum, a rarity for California school districts.

And we all know how music education brings additional benefits to an education. The skills gained through music instruction include analyzing, problem-solving, communicating, and working cooperatively—all skills vital for success in the 21st century.

Other SBEF programs promoting the performing arts include The Leni Fund, which assures that all students can attend a professional performance in the theater, Pianos on State, summer music programs, the district’s trombone teacher Madalena Fossetti, and BRAVO!, the afterschool program for all elementary school students.

Do you have an instrument gathering dust? Donate your used instruments to put them directly into a student’s hands in a local school music program. For more information on the Keep the Beat Instrument Drive, please visit or call 805-284-9125.