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The heartbeat of the band: how a drum is helping carry on the legacy of a former Vail student

Jacob Dunaway Drum
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 24, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The drum is not the star of the show.

Most drums in performances are always situated in the back row.

But without the drum, there is no beat.

Jacob Dunaway played the drums up until his passing in an accident on New Years Eve in 2022.

“I think there's a little piece of Jacob in everybody,” says Christoher Constantine, band teacher at Corona Foothills Middle School.

Constantine taught Jacob while he was a student at CFMS and gave him private lessons.

"He was like every kid, and he had to work hard to play anything that he played, and that made watching him play that much more rewarding, because you knew he put in the time," says Constantine.

Jacob's mom Zoe wanted to come up with a way to give back in Jacob's memory.

She partnered with the Vail School District Foundation to find a way to do just that.

"Band and music was a big part of Jacob's life, and so therefore was a large part of my life. I still volunteer with the Cienega copper thunder marching band," says Zoe Dunaway, "This is wanting to do something for the music programs in the Vail school district and honoring Jacob, keeping his spirit alive, his passion alive."

The drum donated by the foundation in Jacob's name is unique in its own right.

"This is the only drum of its kind and make least in southern Arizona. There are other field drums at the university, but this is the only Tama bravura, Star phonic. So again, like Jacob, it's unique in and of itself," says Constantine.

For Zoe Dunaway, she says Jacob loved to play the drums more than anything else.

Which makes giving a drum in his name, that much more powerful.

The drum made its debut at the middle school's spring concert. With every percussion player taking a turn playing it.

"Every single one of them matters whether they know it or not," said Constantine.

Dunaway's mom Zoe says, she plans to continue to raise money in her son's memory to make sure his legacy carries on.

Blake Phillips is a reporter for KGUN 9. Originally from St. Louis, Mo., Blake grew up in Sierra Vista. During his college tenure at the Missouri School of Journalism, Blake worked for the NBC affiliate KOMU-TV in Columbia. He is excited to return to a place he calls home and give back to the community in which he grew up. Share your story ideas and important issues with Blake by emailing