More than 100 fourth- and fifth-graders regularly take part in the concert band at North Street Elementary School, but this year many will find themselves on a waiting list because there aren’t enough instruments to accommodate all who are interested in playing at every grade level. To try to restore the opportunity of concert band to as many students as possible the Music Boosters of Geneva, in conjunction with HWS staff, The Salvation Army, and the Ontario Youth Bureau will sponsor an instrument drive.
An article about the drive and the school’s need for instruments appeared in the Finger Lakes Times on August 21.
From Saturday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Sept. 4, donations of all types of instruments will be accepted at a number of drop-off locations. They are looking for wind, string, brass, percussion and reed instruments, as well as monetary donations.
William Smith Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig, who is a parent and serves as the President of the Music Boosters of Geneva, is excited at the idea of the community working together to create this opportunity for children to experience music.
“The demand for instruments is a wonderful problem to have here in Geneva. We don’t want to turn anyone away from this opportunity to learn to play an instrument,” Kaenzig said. “Our community has been a longstanding supporter of music in Geneva, and I am certain we’ll get many people to take a look into their closets and attics to find instruments for children who are so eager to learn to play them.”
Donations can be dropped off at Super Casuals, Monday through Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the Salvation Army, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and HWS (locations posted on campus). Additionally, monetary donations to assist with repairs to donated instruments can be sent to: Geneva Middle School Band, 101 Carter Road, Geneva, NY 14456.
The Finger Lakes Times article follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Making music – together
Mike Cutillo • Executive Editor • August 21, 2011
Got an old tuba that’s just sitting around collecting dust?
How about a trombone that hasn’t seen the light of day since the kids graduated?
A flute that hasn’t tooted? Drums that haven’t drummed? A trumpet that hasn’t trumpeted?
If your attic or closets are filled with such instruments – or any others, for that matter – the newly created Music Boosters of Geneva will happily take them off your hands, helping you de-clutter your home, and put them into the hands of some young aspiring musicians who otherwise can’t afford them.
It’s a used instrument donation drive that sounds good on paper but doubtless will sound infinitely better when the dust is off and those clarinets and trumpets and saxophones are making sweet music again.
But it’s even more than that – it’s become a community-building exercise that ties groups such as the Ontario County Youth Bureau, the Salvation Army and Hobart and William Smith Colleges in with the Geneva City School District.
“It’s kind of a good way to pitch in and work together,” said downtown businessman Joe Fragnoli, who is chairman of the Salvation Army’s board of directors.
The need for such a drive was identified when elementary music teacher Ken Foster and others realized that with about 70 incoming fourth-graders interested in playing music, the district did not have enough instruments for all of them.
And with as many as half of those students coming from lower income families that couldn’t afford to buy instruments, help was needed in order for everyone to participate, which is the goal.
“I can say that one of the beautiful things about our music program is that it crosses all demographics and provides opportunities to all students,” said school social worker
Susan McGowan. “When the band faculty began to identify that we had more kids than instruments, the CAAST (Community Agencies and Schools Together committee), Wanda Rivera of the Salvation Army and Patty D’Amico of the Ontario County Youth Bureau were more than willing to pull together to work with us on the instrument drive.”
They enlisted the new music booster club, which also was more than willing to help. Lisa Kaenzig is president of the boosters. She is an associate dean at William Smith and has two children who have been in the district’s music program since they were in fourth grade.
“To go into a school like North Street School and to watch almost a hundred kids at the fourth- and fifth grade level playing in the band, it’s just amazing,” Kaenzig said. “It’s just a hidden gem.”
It’s also something to be celebrated, she said, at a time when the district has drawn criticism from the state for its students underachieving. “It’s a time when a lot of challenging things are going on in the schools, and it’s just really depressing to be reading stories about our challenges,” Kaenzig said. “I, as a taxpayer and a parent, want to be made aware about the things that are special.”
The district’s music program, by all accounts, is not only special but is seen by many as a way to help improve morale along with those test scores.
“The research continues to support that exposure to and participation in music helps to support learning and improve school performance,” McGowan said.
“One of the predictors of success in school is engagement in school activities, and engagement in music is one of the best predictors,” said Foster, adding that recent statistics at Geneva show that “100 percent of the kids who remained in band through their senior year went on to college.”
However, he added: “We have to provide access to the program, and if you don’t have an instrument, you don’t have access.”
So, the idea is to collect enough instruments so that everyone who needs one has one. The drive officially begins Saturday and will run through Sept. 4. Boxes for donations will be set up at the dean’s office and around the HWS campus and at Fragnoli’s Super Casuals store on Seneca Street. Reps from the Salvation Army and youth bureau will help with the collection of the instruments, as will students from the Colleges, and the instruments will be delivered to the school district. Foster said the biggest need is for brass and woodwind instruments, such as clarinets and trumpets, but Kaenzig added, with a laugh, “We’ll take anything, really, even accordions.” The bottom line is this is a program that gets the community working with the school district to benefit those who need it most – our young students.
Who wins? We all do.
“This is one of the ways that you can go about changing the culture of the school,” Foster said.
Executive Editor Mike Cutillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 789-3333 ext. 264.