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Schools short of musical instruments, launch donation drive

Sopris Sun Staff Report

The Roaring Fork Valley has long been known for its amazing local music scene. Local middle and high school instrumental music programs are now following suit and literally bursting out of the schools’ band rooms.

This coming year alone there will be 325 new fifth and sixth grade student musicians in school programs in Glenwood, Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen. With the help of Jazz Aspen Snowmass and others, people up and down the valley are starting their journey as life-long musicians in our public schools.

Unfortunately, schools are unable to supply enough instruments for students that need them.

“I have 25 students who have chosen to play the flute next year and I have eight flutes," said Glenwood Springs High School and Middle School band director Tami Suby. Many parents buy or rent instruments, but those costs are a struggle for many parents. “We always scrounge and find an instrument for students who want to play,” Suby told The Sopris Sun, “but it would be great to have a bigger fleet.”

In an effort to help provide more instruments to students, the Carbondale Council for Arts and Humanities (CCAH) and Jazz Aspen Snowmass (JAS) are assisting school programs with an instrument drive. The groups are looking to get instruments out of people’s attics, sheds and basements, and into the hands of young people.

Why are so many students interested in music? Suby said she believes it has to do with the fact that “we all relate to music on some level and it is one of the most powerful ways to express ourselves.”

Suby also pointed to the innovative approach to learning that happens in music classes. Education reformers, including proponents of Expeditionary Learning, are emphasizing the importance of project-based learning, collaborative projects, public presentations and performance-based evaluations; band class has used this approach for years, Suby said.

In band class, Suby explained, the students must work together on a common project: learning and performing a piece of music. Students periodically break up into small groups (such as the clarinet players) to problem-solve and develop their contribution to the group as a whole. In addition to learning about music and musical technique, students develop patience, listening skills, teamwork skills and meticulous attention to detail.

After a significant amount of individual, small group and whole-group work, the students come together and present the result of their hard work in the form of a public performance. As Suby describes it, “The adrenalin, love and hard work that all come together at the moment of performance is pretty magical.”

How to contribute

Drop off your used instrument at one of the following locations: CCAH office in the Third Street Center (between Aug. 15-Sept. 15); Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts (between now and Sept. 15), or the JAS office in the Red Brick Center in Aspen.

Send in a cash donation for the music program through Jazz Aspen Snowmass or directly to each program. For more information on how to contribute pleas, contact JAS at 920-4996 or Tami Suby at tsuby@rfschools.com.

Monetary and instrument donations are tax deductible. You may specify which school you would like to receive your donation.