A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Sharing the Gift of Music

By Leah Kerkman Fogarty on April 4, 2009

From an early age, John Paul (J. P.) Phaup, MBA ’91, was musically inclined. Born in the same town that produced the Beach Boys, he was his school district’s number 1 percussionist for several years running. “I was a little drummer boy,” he says.

Fast forward a few decades and Phaup, now managing director, investments at Wachovia Securities, was enjoying lunch at the Country Club of Fairfax when he overheard a couple of men talking about the need for a new music hall at Mason. Turns out that College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) Dean William Reeder and Charles Joyce, the Arts at Mason Board chair, were two of the dining companions.

Being interested in helping his alma mater and having an interest in music, Phaup decided to get involved. And when he does something, whether it’s playing the drums or raising money for the arts, Phaup does it whole-heartedly. He’s now vice chair of the Arts at Mason Board and also a trustee of the George Mason University Foundation.

But it was a used trumpet that provided the inspiration for his latest venture: starting the Instruments in the Attic donation program that will benefit Mason’s music students and area schoolchildren. Phaup was chatting with a friend from the office when his colleague mentioned that his wife had gotten him a new trumpet for Christmas. Phaup inquired what his friend was doing with his old one.

“I said, ‘You give me that trumpet and I’ll make sure some kid gets it.’ So I brought it to an [Arts at Mason] meeting and said, ‘All right, we’ve got a trumpet. What are we going to do with it?’”

It was around that time that John Casagrande, codirector of music education in CVPA, concluded that Mason’s own music students needed an additional 149 instruments. Phaup was shocked. “Who would think that?” he marvels.

“What we all learned was that if you’re a music major at Mason, you have to be proficient in playing 16 instruments to a level where you can teach a kid to play it and also know how to keep the instruments in good repair,” he explains. So students were renting instruments or borrowing from their friends, says Phaup, to pass their academic requirements and gain instrument proficiency.

The result is the Instruments in the Attic program. Launched in September, the program was officially announced at a Mason holiday concert in December where Phaup served as a guest conductor. The program’s objectives are to receive enough instruments to meet the needs of Mason’s music majors and donate the rest to local schools where Mason music grads often end up teaching.

Phaup says the program is a win-win situation. Donors get rid of their old instruments and get a tax deduction in return, but “the greatest winners, we hope, from this will be the kids, who’ll get an instrument and a teacher [from Mason].”

To date, 81 instruments have been pledged or donated to the program, which is being managed by the Music Department. For more information on how you can help, contact Kerry Doran at 703-993-8877 or kdoran1@gmu.edu.

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