Each week, Agoura Hills Patch will seek suggestions from readers for individual kids, youth groups, teens and even sports teams that wow us with their accomplishments. We want to hear about these amazing children and teens and select one each week as the Patch Whiz Kid.
This week's Whiz Kid is Gavin Bedford. As a senior at , Bedford, 17, is an accomplished student musician who, for the past seven years, has benefited from the music opportunities offered by the Las Virgenes Unified School District. This multitalented musician plays saxophone, clarinet and guitar. In addition to playing in the honors wind ensemble and in studio jazz, Bedford and his band mates have been awarded honors on the local and national levels.
This year, Bedford participated in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Music Festival with Wynton Marsalis in New York. He and his band placed sixth in the nation.
Bedford said his love of jazz began back at . In addition to music, Bedford plays varsity football and lacrosse, and hopes to study radio, TV and film in college.
To spread the joy of music, Bedford is collecting new and used instruments for the music program at Casa Pacifica, a center for abused and abandoned children in Camarillo. To serve this purpose, Bedford created the student-run program Let’s Share the Music. Typically, 70 children live on-site at Casa Pacifica, but the center also serves others in the community. With so many demands on Casa Pacifica's resources, the center has an under-funded music program. Bedford is working in conjunction with Casa Pacifica music directors Jill and Tom Ball to provide the kids with the instruments they need and help them pursue music education.
Bedford hopes that people who have instruments at home that are no longer being used will see the value of donating them to children who could benefit from participating in a music program, just as he has.
"Let's Share the Music was inspired by an idea my mother gave me when she tried to donate a drum set to Casa Pacifica," said Bedford. "We didn't know they had a music program, but once she found out, she made arrangements for me to meet with Jill Ball. She then told me about the program and what they needed."
Ball said she is very grateful to Bedford and his efforts. "He is taking his love and passion for music and sharing it with others who may not have had that opportunity," said Ball. "The kids at CP don't have the same opportunity for music as other kids because of their backgrounds. They don't have the instruments or the exposure to music."
Bedford said that he is inspired by the charitable nature of people in Agoura Hills. "I live in a community that emphasizes community service. Music is something that I have benefited from personally, and I knew I could make a difference. I am also accepting monetary donations to pay for things like reeds, mouth pieces and music."
Not only is Bedford looking to collect instruments to help a worthy cause, he has also partnered with of Agoura Hills, who has generously offered to recondition the instruments donated. To date, Bedford has collected 13 instruments. He offers free pickup of all instruments and can provide receipts for the tax-deductible donations.
Bedford said he deeply appreciates all the help and guidance he received from all of his music teachers through the years, and praised his family for its "endless support in his musical endeavors and in the creation of Let’s Share the Music."
Most of all, he is grateful to all of the people who donated to the children of Casa Pacifica.
If you have a musical instrument that you would like to donate, contact Let’s Share the Music through its website. Financial contributions for Casa Pacifica’s music program are also gratefully accepted. Checks can be made payable to Casa Pacifica; write "Music Program" in the memo section of your check and mail it to the attention of Vicki Murphy at Casa Pacifica, 1722 S. Lewis Rd., Camarillo, CA 93012.
Whiz Kid: Gavin Bedford
School: Agoura High School
Accomplishment: Created Let's Share the Music, a nonprofit effort to provide new and gently used instruments to the music program at Casa Pacifica.
Key to Awesomeness: When asked the secret to his success, Bedford said, "Perseverance, hard work and surrounding myself with people who always support and believe in me."