By Shawn Chitnis

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Educators, artists, and state leaders celebrated a new phase of Take Note Colorado on Monday. Five school districts are working to introduce more students to music and make Colorado the first state in the country to give every child the instruments and teachers they need to explore their creative side.

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“I think it’s a very cool opportunity for us because we get to be exposed to different types of music of the world,” said Michael Agsam, an eighth grader at Aurora Frontier P-8.

(credit: CBS)

Students at an early age are appreciating what music can do for them not just when they’re playing instruments or recording songs but in other classrooms as well. Aurora Public Schools hosted two events to help launch the first round of funding through Take Note Colorado.

Musicians explained to some of the children at that school how to use a DJ’s turntable as well as how singers can improve their sound with Autotune software.

“I just feel very grateful because I’m glad that they’re teaching other kids other things even if they’re not used to it,” said Elenie Sandoval, a third grader at Aurora Frontier.

Along with Aurora, East Otero School District, Mesa County, Morgan County District Re-3, and the Roaring Fork School District will receive funding through the campaign. Organizers say they wanted to touch different parts of the state and identify places with the potential to the lead the way for the rest of Colorado.

“I caught the vision immediately mostly because of the impact music has on my own life,” said Isaac Slade, member of the band The Fray and co-chair of Take Note Colorado.

LINK: Take Note Colorado

“The idea is to get a bunch of like-minded people who don’t agree on almost anything except for kids, music and Colorado with a ton of resources and influence to kind of chase this for about five to 10 years to see if we can pull it off,” said Slade.

The Colorado native and popular musician joined Gov. John Hickenlooper at another Aurora school to celebrate the funding that takes the first step toward their ambitious goal.

“There is study after study that shows that kids who play music or trying to learn to play music, they get along with other kids better,” the governor said at Clyde Miller P-8. “They do better in all their classes, they do especially better in math and science.”

Hickenlooper is the other co-chair of the campaign with Slade. They’ve already spent plenty of time together visiting schools and meeting students. They always try to engage the community and excite everyone attending assemblies at each event.

“Sometimes the governor comes on stage and we just make these hilarious moments with third graders and 20 ukuleles and it’s chaos and it’s so beautiful,” said Slade.

Isaac Slade, left, and Gov. John Hickenlooper, right, on Monday (credit: CBS)

The duo teamed up again with several students at Clyde Miller for one of those hilarious moments. Slade sang and played the guitar, Hickenlooper brought out a banjo while some student sang, and other played the ukulele.

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The governor went on to explain a steady stream of money will be needed to make it a permanent part of the state. He estimates it will take $10 million a year to give every student that wants a music education the tools they need. The governor expects sponsors and private fundraising will cover about half of that budget but lawmakers will need to approve the rest of that amount.

“As we raise money, we hope the General Assembly will take some of the money from education and kind of match it,” he said.

Before all that money is raised, the commitment is already there from these two music lovers and the educators leading the districts that are adopting the campaign early.

“We know that music education is incredibly important, it opens our kids minds up, it opens up their perspective on the world,” said Rico Munn, superintendent of Aurora Public Schools. “But also creates opportunities in areas that they’re very excited to engage.”

School districts see the impact music has on their students already so they want to encourage programs like Take Note Colorado. It fits into the curriculum they’re building from any classroom to the music room.

“The Aurora Public Schools has had a commitment to educating the whole child,” explained Munn. “Making sure that we can expose children to the wide range of things in the world so they can make choices about their life and what they want their future to look like.”

Slade says he knows firsthand the difference music makes on a child or teen still trying to figure out their future. He remembers how it changed his life and his peers when he was in high school.

“I really kind of found my identity and figured out who I was as I spoke it, as I sang it, as I played piano,” he said. “I think that everybody deserves to have that, especially the kids that don’t think of themselves as musicians.”

Those students at Aurora Frontier say they hope to see more days like the one where Slade visited them and got them thinking about music and its influences on them.

“We can expose kids to a different side of the world and a different side of our culture,” said Agsam.

CBS4 is a proud partner of the Take Note Colorado program. You can learn more about the initiative at The campaign is looking for support from music education advocates across the state.

“I feel like it’s important,” said Sandoval of how music makes her and her peers feel. “They don’t really stay in their shell all the time.”

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Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.