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NJ guitarist donates instruments to local music programs

MANALAPAN, N.J. — Students at Manalapan High School got the gift of five brand new Schecter guitars, amps, cables and drum sets. It was all donated to the school's music program today by the Traveling Guitar Foundation, which was founded in 2009 by a New Jersey guitarist.

"Music was always an outlet for me, a positive outlet for me," said Damon Marks, the organization's founder.

He hopes it will be a positive outlet for students.

When schools face budget cuts, music and arts programs are often the first to go. ​Marks' foundation has stepped in to donate instruments, perform or do music outreach at over 100 schools across the country and abroad.

"I think these new instruments will help bring more kids into the program that maybe are not so into the conventional instruments, like trumpet and trombone," said Jose Maunez, the music director at Manalapan H.S.

Dhilan Kotian, a junior at Manalapan High School, is one of those kids. He was invited up to play with Marks’ band, "Frontiers Ultimate Journey Tribute​," during a Thursday afternoon performance at Manalapan for several hundred students.

"I was in jazz band freshman and sophomore," said Kotian. "But I just kind of stopped, just lost interest because I didn’t really like the kind of music."

Kotian picked up the guitar outside of school. But thanks to Marks and the Traveling Guitar Foundation, students who follow will have a chance to learn.

"By adding these instruments to Manalapan High School, I think its just a great way for kids to pick up the instrument," he said.