I was at a holiday party last evening and ran into Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and his wife Susan. As we were talking, I remembered that I'd seen an article in the Grand Rapids Press that the Grand Rapids Public Schools Student Advancement Foundation has launched a campaign to raise funds and accept donations for musical instruments to update/upgrade the inventory so that all of the students who wish to play in band, have that opportunity.
It's a worthy program and wonderful goal! Music can change the life of a young person, and there are many among us who may have a gift and a passion, but for purely lack of financial means, may never discover it. In my travels through people's homes as they are preparing to move, it seems that the majority have some sort of musical instrument in a closet, in the basement, wherever, gathering dust. Those instruments are just waiting for someone to hold them in their arms and press their lips against them and the result could be beautiful music. (Shame on you if you thought I was going in a different direction with that). :)
When Kirstin graduated from high school 5 1/2 years ago, we had her marching trumpet which she indicated she would be unlikely to ever play again. I thought about putting an ad in the paper to sell it, but realized the $25 or $50 I might be able to get for the horn wouldn't change my life one bit. So I took it to the store where I was taking my cello lessons and asked their techs to go over it, fix anything that needed fixing and get it back to me.
I remembered when Jared was in 5th grade,I was new to real estate and the dollars were tight. It was a HIGH PRIORITY in our home that the kids play in the band, so I found a way to buy a beat-up old trombone for him to start on. Turns out, it was exactly the right thing to do. He's now a professional Bass Trombonist who lives and works in the Cincinnati areas. I wonder how many kids are out there that would fall into the same category if given a chance. Then I wonder how many of them have no chance short of this type of school program, to find out if it's their passion?
Then I reached out to a band director who was the son of a client to see if he had a student who had the desire but lacked the funds. He did! So I took the trumpet, together with a letter of encouragement to the student and one of my favorite trumpet cd's so he'd know what a well played trumpet sounded like. It felt so good, I kept going. I bought a few horns on e-Bay, sent a letter to my database asking if they had instruments that were gathering dust to consider letting me have them rehabbed so I could put them in the hands of these special students.
I got some very nice thank you notes from the young people. I knew 6 or 7 directors around the area and I reached out to them when I had a horn ready to go. Sadly, there was never a time that there wasn't a need.
So if you are in or around the Grand Rapid area, and have a serviceable band instrument, I encourage you to reach out to Susan Heartwell to make arrangements to donate it to the cause. If you do not, but are looking for a place where a monetary donation could REALLY CHANGE A LIFE! Please consider writing a check. The need is great, the goal is $500,000 in instruments and dollars.
I'm confident that wherever you live, there's a similar need. If you have musical dust collectors, please dust them off and help a young person discover their passion. I know that for me, the thought that one of the instruments that I provided would light a fire, uncover a passion, was pretty compelling. The hope that one day, I'd hear from a professional musician or band director that many years ago, they were given an opportunity by someone they didn't know, to have an instrument of their own, and that it changed their life, was all the thanks I needed.