Musical instrument donations to benefit ASES students
By Sue Tiffin
A better life might be out there for the violin or guitar you have stashed away in your closet, even if the abandoned instrument needs some tender loving care.
The Three Rs Music Program, an initiative of Music Canada through their Music Canada Cares corporate social responsibility arm, is hosting its first community instrument drive, seeking musical instruments to be donated to schools in Ontario. Archie Stouffer Elementary School has been named as one of the first recipients of donated instruments in the pilot program.
“The whole idea of three Rs,” said Amy Terrill of Music Canada and Music Canada Cares, “we want to rescue [gently used] instruments that are in basements or closets, that people aren't using. We want to restore them to fully functional condition. And then we want to reunite them with students in public schools around the province.”
"It's fantastic because they have a really good sense of what's going on in all of their schools, they know where there are areas of opportunity and growth, where some of the gaps are,” said Terrill.
“We're just really excited,” she said of the possibilities provided by the program. “We have no idea how many instruments will come, although some have been trickling in. As the word gets out, we know children have moved out, aren't continuing to play an instrument, or just didn't really take to it too much. We know people have instruments in their houses, so it's a matter of just finding those, getting them back to perfect repair and then reuniting them with some other young kids who can get some inspiration.”
Van Halteren's Music Centre in Lindsay will aid in refurbishing donated instruments before they are redistributed to schools taking part in the program.
Music Canada has partnered with the Trillium Lakelands District School Board and the Government of Ontario for the inaugural drive, and three schools - ASES in Minden, Lady Mackenzie in Kirkfield and Central Senior in Lindsay - are participating. A press release from Music Canada states, “The program prioritizes providing instrument to underserved communities, particularly at-risk, Indigenous and other underrepresented communities."
"Music Canada Cares was looking for schools that met several pieces of criteria," said Beth Wilson of the TLDSB. "This included a school that had a vibrant program and music education teachers. ASES has very strong music teachers, Lorie Reddering and Natalia Salvatori. The company was also looking for schools that were in rural communities and proved to need access to instruments and showed diversity in a number of areas."
Though all instruments will be accepted if they can be repaired, the drive is encouraging anyone with unused ukuleles, trumpets, flutes and clarinets to consider passing them on.
“[We're] putting the call out,” said Terrill. “We'll take anything, but the schools have identified some higher priorities, which are ukuleles, flutes, clarinets and trumpets. We'll take anything, as long as [it can be repaired] – then we will get it refurbished and we will get it into local schools.”
The program's objective is to improve access to quality music education for youth across Ontario.
”We're doing this by trying to enhance and improve the inventory of instruments in schools,” said Terrill.
She knows firsthand the importance of having a quality instrument to practice with, after an experience in a music class in Lindsay when she was a high school student herself. The oboe in the school was in terrible condition, cracked and difficult to learn on. Terrill said she was fortunate her parents could buy her an oboe so she could learn, but acknowledged that most families can't do that.
“The schools are doing the best they can, the board is doing the best they can, within their budget to provide adequate instruments,” she said. “But in many cases, students might be sharing instruments so they don't have access to it for rehearsal or practice to really hone their skills or they might be using instruments that aren't in the greatest repair and that really affects your learning ability.”
Terrill's own children pursued other forms of art, and so her oboe has been donated to the Three Rs Music Program.
“This program will really support ASES as the more kids who get engaged in music programs would have access to their own instrument, which can increase the size of the band as well as having an instrument available to take home for practice,” said Wilson. “When kids experience a quality and intentional music education program they experience the joy that occurs when many students play together as well as building a stronger community within a school. The music room in a school tends to be a very safe and comforting space where kids can encourage one another and strengthen positive relationships by encouraging one another.”