There are some things schools are required to teach. Math and science. English and gym. But keeping arts programs is more of a challenge.
So, who steps up when schools can’t meet that need on their own?
“We see a lot of interesting things around sometimes,” said principal Denise Raphael.
She is principal at Abundant Life Christian Academy in North Las Vegas — population 30. In the musical emergency room. It’s much quieter. The population there — one.
“It looks really gross,” said Ed Simanton.
Simanton’s Las Vegas home is where old instruments are resuscitated.
“It’s got years and years of gunk built up on it,” Simanton said.
He is a doctor at UNLV’s medical school. One of its top administrators, but not a doctor of medicine.
“I’m a music teacher.”
Dr. Simanton is a surgeon of sound.
He has 20 instruments at his disposal. And ones he can’t play, he fixes so he can. Simanton’s love of music has taken him to all corners of the globe, from North Dakota to Haiti to Abundant Life Christian Academy.
The school only has 30 students and could never afford its own music teacher. He helps fill the noisy halls with song.
“He came and said, I would like to teach music,” Raphael said.
“It’s teaching where it’s needed,” Simanton said. “They didn’t have a music teacher. There were kids who wanted to learn. Parents wanted their kids to learn. That’s where the need was.”
Jalen Johnson is one of his students.
“Some of the music I learned is very fun to play, even if they look hard and I don’t want to play it,” Johnson said.
“How often do you get kids at this age taking a piano lesson and they walk in to the room, OK, can I do some sight reading?” Simanton said.
It’s not just his time he donates. Those instruments in his home ER. There’s a reason he fixes them up. He brings them here.
According to Simanton, “Music does things to the human brain that nothing else does.”
A doctor’s prescription.
“There’s probably thousands of kids who need this. I’m able to meet the needs of about a dozen,” he said.