BREWER, Maine — It was once so tarnished and corroded, you may not have recognized it as a flute. Today, it’s shiny and new and belongs to a student at the Brewer Community School at 92 Pendleton St. The student who received the flute is taught by school music director Lanissa Nadeau.
The flute came to the student from The Gifts of Music, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting music education and live performance in Maine. As used instruments are donated to the program, The Gifts of Music works to raise money through donors and special events for refurbishing the instruments, and for music scholarships and grants.
A violin also will be provided to an eighth-grade student at the request of music instructor Stan Harris at the Dedham School, and a trumpet will be given to music teacher Darrell Roundy of RSU 73 in the Livermore Falls area.
In August, The Gifts of Music gave six instruments to Music Director Lance Schanck at RSU 19 in the Newport-Palmyra area for students in the elementary school band program there. “It means that I have six more beginning band students — 18 fourth-graders at St. Albans Consolidated School and twelve at Hartland Consolidated School. For some students [playing an instrument] is something they have never done before, and it’s chance from them to do something very different. I’m hoping the program will build on itself and expand to the other three schools in the district.”
The Gifts of Music partners with Main Street Music Studios in downtown Bangor as the donated instrument drop-off location, and with instrument repair technicians Bill Thibodeau Glen Sergeant and Andy Clifford at the store.
Music educators may go to thegiftsofmusic.org to obtain an instrument request form. Instruments are provided from available inventory, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Founded in July of 2010 by Susan Patten, a journalism instructor at NESCOM at Husson University, and other volunteers, The Gifts of Music promotes its mission to keep music education and performance alive for Maine children and communities.
“My original prompt was that I was a musician in high school and throughout my life. Then when my daughters’ father died, I wanted to do something to keep his memory alive, to help them in their grief — he was a singer,” said Patten. As a result, one of The Gifts of Music scholarships is named the Mitch Geel Scholarship Fund.
Through a variety of giving and networking opportunities, the organization aims to offer scholarships for middle and high school-age student musicians for lessons and extracurricular opportunities; grants to Maine nonprofit organizations desiring to hire musical entertainment for fundraising events; grants to Maine music educators, public and private, for unfunded operational expenses and extraordinary educational opportunities; donated and refurbished instruments for use by individual students and school programs; and membership and networking opportunities for professional musicians and instructors.
To aid the mission of the organization, Patten will hold a fundraiser, 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, in downtown Bangor. Patten and a few of her singing friends will stroll through downtown singing Christmas carols. They will accept donations to benefit the organization and share information about it. “We’ll be singing for tips,” she said, laughing. Donating to the organization is a unique gift giving idea, with the donor’s name posted on her website, she said.
Those who wish may donate online, or mail a tax-deductible donation to: The Gifts of Music, TGOM, P.O. Box 264, Orrington 04474. For information, call 356-8015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.