A Tucson music program is about to get a boost from pop legend Barry Manilow.
The singer-songwriter, who will be performing in Tucson on Monday night, plans to donate a piano to students at Ironwood Ridge High School.
Manilow is also encouraging community members to get in on the act by donating their gently used instruments in exchange for two tickets to his show.
Community members in other cities have donated trumpets, saxophones, guitars, cellos, flutes, clarinets, tubas, trombones, French horns, violins and more.
Manilow’s piano will be housed at Ironwood Ridge, and any donated instruments will be distributed to elementary and middle-schoolers in need, said Mark Hodge, the music coordinator for the Amphitheater School District.
“I love the idea behind this project,” Hodge said. “It’s reflective of Barry Manilow’s desire to make sure music is prevalent in every community.
“Fine arts are an integral part of a well-rounded education. … Our schools provide a wonderful canvas in which students in the fine arts can express themselves through band, orchestra and choir.”
There are more than 1,000 students involved in music programs across Amphi, many of whom are not familiar with Manilow’s work, Hodge said.
But since being selected to participate in the Manilow Music Project, students have been exposed to Manilow’s music and have been able to connect with parents who have shared memories of attending Barry Manilow concerts, Hodge said.
“There are a few icons who do what they can to support music in schools,” Hodge said. Manilow “is taking his time and money and putting it toward the communities in which he is performing. It’s pretty cool, and we appreciate it.”
The piano and donated instruments were initially offered to the Tucson Unified School District, but the Manilow Music Project moved on to Ironwood Ridge when TUSD was unable to make an immediate commitment.