How many adults do you know who have played an instrument when they were younger? Personally, I know quite a few. As a matter of fact, most of my friends took music lessons as a kid or played in their school’s band or orchestra while they were growing up. And now, as their busy lives continue to unfold, they no longer play.
But where did that old instrument go? My clarinet is sadly sitting in the back of a closet in my childhood home. My husband’s trombone is collecting dust in our cluttered basement. What an embarrassment for me to admit that those valuable instruments have been untouched, wasting away for many years, while so many of our nation’s children want to play music but can’t afford to purchase or rent instruments of their own. Shame on me.
Research has been done on the many benefits of music education. I believe every child should have the opportunity to play an instrument. When they participate in the arts, children are smarter and happier. They also are more responsible, they learn to manage time and they feel a sense of accomplishment.
Early musical training helps to develop areas of the brain that are involved in language and reasoning. Students of the arts learn to think creatively, and to solve problems by imagining unique and various solutions. Recent studies show that students who study music are more successful in standardized tests like the ACT and the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in school. Musicians learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and they feel pride as they reap the rewards of their hard work.
The benefits of education in the arts are numerous. I could go on about the opportunities of self expression, and the joy and relaxation playing music can bring. I could share with you the pride my own children feel when they identify a classical piece being played on MPR. But my feeling is that there is no need to convince ourselves of the benefits of music education. The benefits are well documented. But why, then, are we only offering this wonderful opportunity to those with the financial means to pay for it? Shame on us.
Musical instruments are expensive and many families and school districts just simply can’t afford to purchase them. Many students are currently being educated in our country without the opportunity to play or participate in the arts, purely because they lack the instruments — not because they lack the interest or aptitude. We are doing them a great disservice. But we can change that.
The opportunity is there for us to share our unused instruments. We can dust them off, tune them up and watch a new generation make great music. Giving new life to an old instrument is a possibility.
The St. Louis Park Community Band feels passionately about this cause. They have already put more than 400 unused instruments into the hands of young musicians with their program. But the need is even greater. More instruments are needed to provide the opportunity of musical enrichment to many children in our community. We must find these instruments.
I urge you to look in your basement. I ask you to talk with your friends and family members. Perhaps you will find an old trombone lurking around, like I did. You may be housing an instrument that would offer a student more than just something to practice. By donating your used instrument you are giving many profound educational opportunities to a child. Please contact the St. Louis Park Community Band via the Web at slpband.org, and they will find a new home for your old band or orchestra instrument. Don’t let this message fall “flat.” Let’s search for unused instruments, and give the gift of music. When you donate your unused musical instrument, we can say all: “Bravo to you.”
Lisa Bobyak lives in Plymouth with two daughters, and many musical instruments...some that are played and some that need to be donated.