BELMONT (KPIX) — They’re not musicians or music teachers, but for the last decade, a Belmont husband and wife have been instrumental in keeping music alive in their neighborhood schools.

Fourth and fifth graders discover the joy of music at Cipriani Elementary School in Belmont, thanks to volunteers from Carlmont High School who lead group lessons once a week for free.

Emily and Alan Sarver co-founded the Music Mentor after school program, and for ten years, they’ve seen aspiring musicians blossom.

“If I put in ten or fifteen minutes a day, I will be a visibly better musician in a week or two, and it keeps snowballing,” Alan Sarver explained.

“They enjoy it so much and they enjoy the master,” his wife Emily added.

This year, the Sarvers have rounded up 70 high school mentors to teach more than 200 students in six elementary schools.

Ten-year-old Khai Kober notes the difference.

“It makes me like to practice at home more,” the fifth grader said.

Patti Leggett-Wantz says the Sarvers’ program has inspired her daughter Solea.

“Thank you, thank you from the whole community because music is such a wonderful gift!” she said.

The Sarvers recruit, and match students with mentors. Then each takes a car to pick up high school volunteers and take them to the elementary schools for lessons.

Volunteer James Dunning wouldn’t be anywhere else.

“It’s kind of cool helping them through the problems that I had gone through,” Dunning said.

The idea for Music Mentors first came from the Sarvers’ oldest daughter, Ariel. When elementary music faced budget cuts in 2004, she paired her high school peers with beginning music students for a Girl Scout project.

It was a hit, and her parents continued the project as the Music Mentors program. They remain its heartbeat, though Ariel and her sister are grown.

“To watch the kids do this is wonderful!” Emily Sarver reported.

So keeping music alive for thousands of students, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Alan and Emily Sarver.

Note: Alan also chairs – and Emily volunteers for – the Save the Music Festival. It raises more than $50,000 every year, the biggest fundraiser for elementary school music in the Belmont-Redwood Shores district. To learn more, check out the page from the 2013 event: