High school in Los Lunas receives music makeover

LOS LUNAS — It was the rhythm of his high school’s drum line that started his love for music, according to James Landron.

“Hearing the drums right next to me, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s what I want to do. I want to play those,’” he said.

From then, he decided on a career in music education, creating a platform that would give him the ability to inspire young students, as he was once inspired. For the past seven years, Landron has been the band director at School of Dreams Academy.

“My goal is to try and bring music into the hands of as many kids as I can,” Landron said.

A certified contemporary band teacher through the nonprofit organization Music Will, Landron offers a diverse music catalog for his students.

“Kids can play pop music and learn something different and kind of break out of their shell,” he said. “It’s a really cool thing.”

Landron earned his contemporary band certification during a workshop last year at the University of New Mexico. He says he had a few conversations with several people working for workshop host Music Will who were looking for a local school to partner with on a renovation project.

“Through that networking, they decided that our school was going to be good to bring people out here,” Landron said.

Fast forward to Friday, and six employee-volunteers from the Los Lunas Niagara Bottling plant and one representative from Music Will were helping Landron clean, paint and reorganize his band room. They also helped build a new drum kit, and delivered several new guitars and keyboards donated to School of Dreams by Music Will.

Volunteers also put up soundproofing in a practice room and LED light strips around the classroom to give it a new look.

“Each year (Music Will) works with Niagara to identify communities where they want to do employee engagement opportunities,” said Eric Musarra, senior manager of institutional giving at Music Will. “School of Dreams aligned for both of us and when we reached out, they were really excited about the opportunity to do this project.”

Several Niagara volunteers also helped paint a mural that was designed by a Music Will employee. The mural will hang in the newly renovated practice room, which features soundproof walls.

Music education has a special place in the heart of Niagara volunteer Florence Madrid, who played the clarinet in high school.

“It was a way to get me into the arts when I was in school,” Madrid said. “Then to pay it forward, for (students) to come in here and say, ‘Hey, look at all the things that we have,’ that’s fun.”

Before the full renovations could be completed, students were already roaming Landron’s classroom, scoping out the new instruments. Beatrix Tinker and Jordan Swinney, both 11th graders, took quickly to the new keyboards and guitars, quickly plugging them in and tuning them.

The smiles on their faces grew as each tuned an instrument to just the right pitch. Swinney plucked away on the guitar, playing several different riffs from classic rock songs.

“(Music) helps me escape, it’s a good turn off from school and all the work,” he said.

As much fun as playing the new equipment is, Swinney said he really can’t wait to share it with his classmates. “I’m excited to see them come in,” he said.

Photos: Los Lunas’ School of Dreams Academy receives a musical makeover


New guitars and keyboards were donated to School of Dreams Academy on Friday by Music Will.
Gino Gutierrez/Journal


Several Niagara volunteers work on hanging soundproofing on the wall at the School of Dreams Academy on Friday.
Gino Gutierrez/Journal


Erin Musarra, senior manager of institutional giving at Music Will, attaches an LED light strip to the wall at the School of Dreams Academy on Friday.
Gino Gutierrez / Journal


Niagara volunteer Florence Madrid paints part of a mural designed by a Music Will employee at the School of Dreams Academy on Friday
By Gino Gutierrez / Journal Staff Writer


Niagara volunteer Jonatan Sepulveda installs soundproofing on the walls at the School of Dreams Academy on Friday.
Gino Gutierrez / Journal


A new drum kit that was donated to School of Dreams by Music Will and built by Niagara volunteers on Friday.
Gino Gutierrez / Journal


School of Dreams Academy Contemporary Band Teacher James Landron smiles as 11th grader Jordan Swinney plays a new guitar donated by Music Will on Friday.
Gino Gutierrez/Journal


School of Dreams Academy 11th grader Jordan Swinney plays a new guitar donated to the school by Music Will on Friday.

Alburqurque Journal

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