Mt. Juliet, TN - September, 2016
It was the first day of school for Central High School band students in Baton Rouge on August 11th, 2016. Many students took school-owned instruments home to practice, not realizing how their lives would change in the next 48 hours. The flood that hit this area of the country not only swallowed up many of their homes, but took their belongings, including these musical instruments. Upon hearing the news, New Orleans native and renowned musician Harry Connick Jr. reached out to KHS America (home of Jupiter Wind Instruments and Majestic Percussion) to collaborate on in assisting the school.
“I received a call on Friday, September 9th from a producer of the new talk show Harry about a taping at Central High School on Wednesday, September 14th,” stated Jupiter and Majestic Artist and Education Manager, Rick DeJonge. “We discussed the needs of this school and began to explore the possibility of donating replacements for instruments that were destroyed”. That following Tuesday Rick loaded up a truck with over $60,000 worth of instruments and drove eight hours from Mount Juliet, TN to Baton Rouge, LA so that the students would be able to receive these new instruments as a surprise during the taping of Harry being shot live via satellite from his studio in New York to the band room at Central High School.
“Students came to the band room knowing that Harry Connick Jr. was going to speak with them remotely in order to have them share stories of the recent flood,” said band director James Henderson. What they didn’t know was that Harry and Jupiter/Majestic had teamed up to surprise the band with new instruments. “I cannot tell you how much this means to these kids and their families after everything they have been through. We have all been on an emotional roller coaster. Now, we as a band, can get back to making music and help the healing process begin.”
Band parent Charity Bersuder commented, “I watched my son's face light up when those instruments came through the door. He was ecstatic. My eyes still tear up when I remember his excitement and smile as he opened that case and puts on his sousaphone.” Stephanie was one of 15 band parents that helped surprise the students, carrying in the new instruments during the taping of the show. The episode aired on September 15, 2016 and can be seen at https://youtu.be/OrkhyPzbeKI
or view below.
Jupiter Wind Instruments has a long history of coming to the aid of schools suffering an unexpected loss of instruments. In the aftermath of Katrina, the tornadoes in Joplin, MO and more recently when an accident saw all of a school’s woodwind instruments run over by a truck during a water break at band camp, Jupiter and its sister companies, Mapex Drums and Majestic Percussion, have been quick to step in and assist. “We understand what band means to these students, and the community that is formed around a band program,” states DeJonge. “Witnessing the overwhelming emotion of these students and parents as they feel renewed hope of this aspect of their lives returning to normal, it is truly an honor for us to help keep music alive for those needing it the most.”