Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

October 15, 2013

Help put instruments in the hands of young pupils

CROSSVILLE — FACT -  There are a lot of students who would love to learn to play a musical instrument and participate in a school band, but whose families do not have the finances to either rent or purchase a instrument.  

FACT - Cumberland Co. schools have smaller than desired instrumental programs, due in part to insufficient instruments to loan to prospective needy students.

FACT - youngsters who participate in school instrumental music programs tend to do better with their academic studies and test results.

Joshua Geary, band director at Stone Memorial High School, said, “Music instructors in Cumberland County Schools are asking for the community's help to bring more instrumental music to students who want to be in ensemble."

Typically, the students begin taking instrumental music courses in Grade 5 or 6, but an issue has arisen in the past decade.  At "fitting nights," many students would love to learn to play a musical instrument and participate in a school band, but their families do not have the finances to either rent or purchase an instrument. They feel uncomfortable and ultimately do not join the groups. Instructors try to find instruments, but even the high school programs with booster organizations are stretched to meet the demand. As a result, Cumberland County Schools have smaller than desired instrumental music programs.

"There are many research studies which have shown that students who participate in school instrumental music programs tend to do better with their academic studies; however, resources of Cumberland County schools are stretched financially to meet the needs of students who would like to participate in instrumental music but lack the finances to afford an instrument,” said Geary.

Dwight Wages, president of the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass, developed this project based on a similar successful program in the Greater Cincinnati area. It is one of the missions of the SSSB to help build local school instrumental programs. The SSSB and the Fairfield Glade and Crossville Rotary Clubs, which have a history of support programs within the school system, have joined forces to initiate this unique LINKS program for the Cumberland County Schools. 

The project, known as LINKS (Lonely Instruments for Needy Kids), is a way for the community to donate instruments to Cumberland County Schools so that more students receive a chance to do music. LINKS will advertise to the community and have special "drop off" locations so that instruments can enter the system. Each donor will receive a letter that indicates the value of the instrument for tax deductible status. If the instrument needs repairs, it will be sent to Rush's Music Store in Knoxville before entering the system. The local Rotary Clubs and Rush's Music will donate funds to assist with repairs. Music instructors and administrators will meet to find interested student candidates based on need, and monitor the inventory of donated instruments. At the end of the process, students receive their instrument on loan and begin classes with the music teacher at their school.

Cumberland County Director of Schools Donald Andrews and representative to the Cumberland County Board of Education Dan Schlafer are enthusiastic in their support of the LINKS project and what it can do to bring instrumental music to a greater number of students in the elementary and high school music programs.   

Now it is time to search attics and basement storage areas for that used instrument which you had planned to relearn but never did, sell in a garage sale but it did not sell, or just plain forgot about it. No instrument is in too bad a shape to be considered for this project. If it can not be justified for repair, it may be able to be used for parts.  

While there is initially a need for wind instruments, LINKS will consider percussion, stringed instruments, and pianos (the latter especially if the piano is in good shape). Besides being short of the smaller instruments, there are no pianos at SMHS for the choir room or on the stage of the auditorium.  

The collection locations will be manned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26  and Nov. 2 at the following locations:

• Fairfield Glade Mall courtyard at 126 Stonehenge Dr. in Fairfield Glade

• Crossville Outlet Center at 228 Interstate Dr. in Crossville (across from the Subway in the mall)

Round up those trumpets, flutes/piccolos, clarinets, saxophones, trombones, french horns, baritone/euphonium, tubas, stringed instruments (guitars,violins, cellos, etc.), pianos and bring to the above collection locations for this program which will definitely help local needy students. Any questions, please call Dwight Wages at 931-484-6939.

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