Offer every child the opportunity to play a musical instrument

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For years, students in the music program at Denver Green School’s Southeast Campus in Denver’s Virginia Vale neighborhood had to share musical instruments because the school just didn’t have the inventory for them. each child has his own.

This meant that the students could not take the musical instruments home to practice, so they would spend extra hours after school to have access to an instrument to play.

“It was like a high hill to climb to continue to provide the best opportunities for my students,” said Aleaha Harkins, music teacher at Denver Green School Southeast Campus.

But for the 2020-21 school year, a nonprofit program called Bring music to life stepped in to help.

“Many students were grateful that they even had the opportunity to share an instrument, but when Bringing Music to Life allowed each student to borrow their own instrument for the year, they were thrilled,” Harkins said. “It was so amazing to see the students’ eyes double in size and their jaws drop when I told them that they didn’t have to share this year and that they could take the instrument home for themselves. lead. “

The Bringing Music to Life instrument player, which is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, takes lightly used musical instruments donated by the community and donates them to underfunded school music programs across Colorado. The Bringing Music to Life instrument player was started years ago by Steve Blatt when he was with Colorado Public Radio. Today, Blatt is the executive director of the organization and the campaign is in its 11th annual year.

Being able to provide a student with an instrument to take home has been particularly “a lifeline” this year, Harkins said.

“Thanks to the (Bringing Music to Life) program, students (…) didn’t have to share and were able to practice from their own homes during the COVID-19 shutdown,” Harkins said. “During the difficulties of online learning, it brought so much joy to see the students with instruments at home, logging in every morning at 8 am, ready and excited to learn. “

The Bringing Music to Life Instrument Collection, which takes place March 8-21 this year, accepts almost all types of musical instruments, especially those used in groups or in orchestras. Instruments must be in good working order.

However, “every instrument needs some sort of repair,” said Blatt, adding that community members who don’t have an instrument to donate can contribute to the repair of instruments.

Repairs are a big, but expensive, part of the journey, Blatt said. Beginning music students do not know the difference between “excellent playing condition” and an instrument that does not perform well. If the instrument is in worse condition, the student may think it is their fault that the instrument does not sound quite correctly, which can lead to frustration and possibly loss of interest in the student. game, Blatt said.

“So the bottom line is that it (the instrument) is working properly,” said Blatt, “so that it rewards the efforts of the student.”

Bringing Music to Life is working with the Colorado Institute of Musical Instrument Technology in Castle Rock and Boomer Music in Fort Collins to have donated instruments repaired at a reduced rate. In addition to performing repair work, such as putting new strings on a violin or replacing a mouthpiece on a horn, the two music stores thoroughly clean and disinfect all instruments, and will do some cosmetic work if necessary.

Once they are ready for use by students, they are distributed to schools.

Instruments “are assigned to schools,” said Blatt, “but as long as the student attends that school, the child treats the instrument as his own. Children are proud of their instrument (and) they learn to be of it. responsible. ”

Once that student has graduated, the instrument is then handed over to another student in the school who needs it.

Kolacny music, 1900 S. Broadway in the Platt Park neighborhood of Denver, is one of 15 pitches throughout the state where people can donate musical instruments. The store has been involved since the first record, and over the years Debra Kolacny has heard many different stories about the donated instruments.

Some were bought new by a parent for a youngster who eventually outgrown or got a new one, and others were the beloved instrument of a family member who has since died, Kolacny said.

Kolacny Music’s role – enabling people to donate instruments they no longer need or use – is a small part of the Bringing Music to Life initiative, Kolacny said. But it’s gratifying to be involved, Kolacny said, knowing that the instruments will be aimed at local students who might not have access to a musical instrument otherwise.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of it,” she said of the Bringing Music to Life campaign. “It helps the children in our community. They (the instruments) do not leave the state and do not attend private schools. Schools need it, and children need it. The whole process is rewarding.

Musical instruments are expensive, so it’s understandable that some families are reluctant to buy a new instrument for their child when they first show interest in playing, said Zack Littlefield, a musician who was the video producer of training. since its inception.

But sadly, budgets for music and arts programs are among the first to be cut, Littlefield said. So many students – especially those coming from families who can’t afford a new instrument or rent an instrument – don’t have the opportunity to play, Littlefield added.

Bringing music to life is one way to help remove that barrier, he said.

Playing music “can very easily become a love for the rest of their life,” Littlefield said. “Whether they stick to it for the long term or not, they will get something out of it. “

Getting involved in music can lead to all kinds of other skills, Littlefield said. For example, young people learn about teamwork and how to create something together.

“It opens up other parts of the brain as well,” Littlefield said, “so that students find themselves better in other subjects as well.”

Being involved in music can do amazing things for a child’s self-confidence, said Blatt, “it goes way beyond their music lessons.”

“It takes time to learn to play an instrument (but) music is something that can last a lifetime,” said Blatt. The Bringing Music to Life dynamic “gives people the opportunity to breathe new life into an instrument, but on top of that, it can change a child’s life.”


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