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Get Instruments; Meet Instructors

Local Music-Teacher Festival

Noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 4

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

6230 E. Speedway Blvd.

748-9555

The Bookmans on Speedway Boulevard is bringing in eight local music teachers for an event at which customers can get advice on music lessons and appropriate instruments for budding music students.

For the past six months, Bookmans has been building an inventory of musical instruments such as drums, congas, flutes and guitars.

"Bookmans really wanted to introduce new things to rejuvenate our store," said Anthony Aldinger, the event liaison for the store. "We have instruments anywhere from a $20 guitar to a $4,000 guitar. ... Ninety-nine percent of this stuff is from our customers."

By bringing in people who teach a variety of instruments, Bookmans hopes to promote the fact that it is now selling instruments, and provide advice for those considering a purchase or music lessons.

"We want to give people the opportunity to come in and meet and greet, and get advice about music, while also highlighting these beautiful local teachers," Aldinger said.

The teachers participating in the event have a wide variety of experience in teaching music and playing instruments, he said. They include a guitarist, a pianist, a flutist, drummers and a woman who specializes in teaching string instruments to youth.

"We want to make sure these teachers are readily available to their community," Aldinger said. "We feel it's important to make it easily accessible for anyone to come in and purchase instruments and find teachers to help them along the way."

The event is free and for all ages. —R.C.


New School!

Charter School Grand Opening

5 to 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 3

Western Institute for Leadership Development

1300 S. Belvedere Ave.

615-2200

The Western Institute for Leadership Development—a charter college-preparatory high school—will hold its first classes at its brand-new campus this month, and school officials are hosting an open house to explain the benefits of the school to prospective students and their parents.

The event includes a buffet and live entertainment, and guests will have the opportunity to meet the faculty and tour the 10-acre campus.

The school will open this year with ninth-grade and 10th-grade classes. Officials hope to have 100 students enrolled in each grade.

The Western Institute was created to prepare high school students for college and to help them establish a voice in the community. To help accomplish its mission, the school has received a grant of $230,000 each year through 2014 from the Every Voice in Action Foundation, also known as EViA.

EViA is an Arizona nonprofit organization that supports youth leadership in the community and has awarded several million dollars to schools and nonprofit organizations. Several of the board members of EViA are also founding members of the school.

"As the founding donors of the new school, we wanted to create a sustained culture over four years of high school to support youth leadership and academics," said Judith Anderson, chief executive officer at the school. "We want to help them succeed on their own terms in today's world, and to help them figure out how they're going to use their talents in their future careers."

Luis Perales, the community-engagement director, anticipates enrollment growing every year. The academic focus will be on humanities, math and science, in order to prepare the students for real-world jobs, he said.

Anderson and Perales also will be two of the school's six teachers this year.

Admission is free. —R.C.


A Tribute to El Casino Ballroom

The Heart and Soul of Tucson

2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 5

Fox Tucson Theatre

17 W. Congress St.

In honor of the 65th anniversary of Tucson's landmark ballroom, and to help raise money to finish its restoration, documentary filmmaker Daniel Buckley has created The Heart and Soul of Tucson—El Casino Ballroom.

It's the fifth documentary in Buckley's Cine Plaza at the Fox series, which he began in 2009 along with producers Ralph Gonzalez and Julie Gallego.

"The series features different historical aspects of Hispanic culture in Tucson, and mainly Mexican-American culture," Buckley said. "... It really intrigued me that El Casino has served the total community for 65 years."

The film also marks the 80th anniversary of the Latin American Social Club, the ballroom's current owner.

El Casino, at 437 E. 26th St., opened in 1947. It was known for its dance floor, which could hold up to 1,200 people. Virtually every important act on the Mexican-American music scene has played there, from Pedro Infante to Lola Beltrán to Los Tigres del Norte. In the 1950s, when black artists could not play at many Tucson clubs, the ballroom also welcomed early rock 'n' rollers such as Fats Domino and Little Richard.

In 1991, a storm blew off the ballroom roof, and it was closed for the nine years. Thanks to the efforts of donors and volunteers, half of the ballroom has been reopened.

Buckley has been working on his 60-minute documentary for the past year, collecting stories from people who have been going to El Casino since its early days.

"There are fantastic stories here, stories about how people went through times of racism, as well as the musical stories," Buckley said. "... It's been one of the most-joyful experiences in my career as a documentary filmmaker."

Admission is a suggested donation of $3. —R.C.


Five Days of Birding

Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival

Wednesday, Aug. 15, to Sunday, Aug. 19; register online now for events with slots remaining

RiverPark Inn

350 S. Freeway Blvd.

629-0510

For the second year, the Tucson Audubon Society is hosting the Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival to educate the public about the wildlife of Southern Arizona.

The society is a nonprofit organization that aims to connect people to birds and the places they live. Members of the society partner with other organizations and companies in the area to help promote bird-watching. They offer workshops, lectures and other educational activities year-round.

Kara Kaczmarzyk, development and volunteer coordinator at the Tucson Audubon Society, said more than 500 people registered for last year's festival, with participants from 17 states and four countries.

"In Tucson and the greater southeastern Arizona community, we have amazing natural resources," Kaczmarzyk said. "We're in the top three for bird-watching in the entire country, with over 400 species. We've been hearing a lot of feedback and enthusiastic talk about people coming to see our birds and wildlife."

This five-day festival includes half- and full-day field trips to places that offer the best opportunities to watch birds. Field trip destinations include Mount Lemmon, Catalina State Park, Willcox's Twin Lakes and at least 10 other locations.

Evening events include speakers highlighting various species of birds, workshops on topics such as becoming a bird-watcher, and tips on how to identify birds in the area. On Friday, a free nature expo at the RiverPark Inn includes lectures, exhibitions and vendors. Live reptiles and birds will be on display.

There is a registration fee of $15 for the festival. The cost for field trips, workshops and lectures ranges from $8 to $85. —S.V.

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