BANGOR, Maine — Students wanting to learn to play an instrument may find it a bit easier to get started.
The Gifts of Music, a nonprofit organization based in Orrington, has given seven instruments to two RSU 19 schools and music instructor Lance Schanck, who teaches at Hartland Consolidated School and St. Albans Consolidated School.
“In my school district, for the most part of the past 20, 30, 40 years, if a student wanted to play an instrument, they would either buy an instrument, rent an instrument or find somebody they knew that had one who could give one to them,” said Schanck. “It’s going to help by getting more kids involved and giving them a chance to participate.”
Main Street Music Studios in Bangor refurbished a clarinet, flute, two snare drums and three trumpets for fourth-graders to use at Schanck’s two schools.
The instruments will be on a one-year loan to the students. The students will be given lessons twice a week and become part of the school band.
“Once they get to fifth grade, we’re going to make sure if they’re still interested, and we’ll have something for them [to continue playing],” said Schanck.
Giving the instruments to Schanck and his students was the culmination of nearly a year of work by The Gifts of Music founder Susan Patten.
“When I started The Gifts of Music, it was a result of what was happening in the economy and we realized that brand-new, shiny instruments are often out of reach for many families and certainly many students,” said Patten, who started the organization last year.
Patten teamed up with Main Street Music Studios owner Andy Clifford as a place for instruments to be dropped off and refurbished.
“We reached out to the community through news organizations and just word of mouth and we got a really big response,” said Clifford. “This community is very giving.”
The match ended up being a perfect fit for Schanck, who taught Clifford at Nokomis High School in Newport.
“[Clifford] put me in touch with Susan so all things could go together,” said Schanck, who plays a variety of instruments including trumpet and baritone horn. “I have other instruments. I’m hoping to have 10 to 15 instruments I can put into the hands of kids at the beginning of September.”
Schanck said there are about 45 fourth-grade students between the two schools. He won’t know how many of them will join his classes until next week.
When Schanck went to show off the instruments, a smile beamed across his face.
“That smile represents the gift of music in children’s lives,” said Patten. “It’s so important and there’s so much research and education today that justifies how important music education is in the general scheme of education. There are many techniques and skills you can learn as a result of learning an instrument and demonstrating your creativity.”
Parents and students will need to go through an application process to determine who will receive an instrument on loan.
The Gifts of Music is constantly seeking instrument donations, which may be dropped off at Main Street Music Studios.