BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When 9News visits Zeagler's Music on Florida Blvd. at Donmoor, a distinguished looking gentleman is wailing on an electric piano keyboard. As augmented and diminished chords wind in and out of the melody, Reggie Jackson's fingers fly over the keys.
The band director at the newly resurrected Istrouma High School is testing the instrument on the sales floor of Zeagler's, but is also stopping by the instrument repair shop. Jackson is there to thank Fred Zeagler, owner of the store, for refurbishing some of the school system's old instruments and giving him a few donated instruments as well.
"We are getting donations from third parties. You know, alumni, anybody who's willing to answer the call," said Jackson.
Jackson says Istrouma alumni are very supportive of the band. They donate enthusiastically to get the music flowing. At Fred Zeagler's music shop, they've been selling instruments, sheet music, and accessories for 41 years. In all those years, he's repaired instruments at no charge, possibly hundreds of times.
In the instrument repair shop, a tuba d ropped on its head is hammered and buffed back into shape. An old flute gets new corks and pads... new life. Nearby, the dented and dinged, the "fixer uppers" waiting in line. For years, even before the Baton Rouge Symphony started advertising Play It Forward instrument donations that sent dozens of old instruments to Zeagler, he was quietly repairing them for free, polishing to brilliance an instrument to give to a needy child.
"It's a great program. They go to kids that maybe couldn't play in the band otherwise because they don't have an instrument. The parents maybe can't afford an instrument. And like Istrouma, they're starting a band program back up. That's a very expensive thing. The school board just doesn't want to go spend $100,000 just to buy instruments. And we were able to give them a few, and we've got more we're working on and will have," said Zeagler.
So as Istrouma tries to pull together a band in time for Homecoming this year, Zeagler's will continue to help public schools make music.
"Long as we're here, we'll be doing it. It's not something that we're gonna' stop. There's always gonna' be horns that people don't use anymore and there's always gonna' be kids who need them," Zeagler promises with a broad smile.
The Power of 9 Awards are sponsored by Louisiana Honda Dealers, Capital Area United Way Volunteer Center, and WAFB. Be sure to contact the United Way with your nominee for a Power of 9 award.