Ever since we started Music Camp, D’Addario has been with us as one of our sponsors and greatest supporters. Anyone who has been to the Camp will have seen or received some of the many gifts and awards that they have given us over the years. Not only are their strings and musical accessories second to none (we’ve been using them ourselves for over twenty years), but as a company, they are among the nicest and most helpful people with whom we’ve worked.
It was after we became fans of their products that we came to know about the D’Addario Foundation. We couldn’t help but be moved by their genuine desire to help and contribute, not just to the world of aspiring musicians and musical organizations, but to society as a whole. With everything they do, it isn’t hard to see how much they believe in the transformative power of music and that mentoring and building communities through music can positively affect social change. “Making Music Possible” is the Foundation’s main goal, especially in areas, communities, and regions where access to instruments and musical education is seriously limited. They have been in existence for over 30 years and have supported a vast number of people with musical supplies and financial aid/grants. Ten percent of their net profits fund over 200 non-profit programs on a yearly basis and one hundred percent of every dollar goes directly to music programs with D’Addario absorbing all operational costs. Wow! Really impressive when you think about….amazingly powerful when you actually experience it!
We were so inspired by the work and goals of the D’Addario Foundation that we based our Symposium discussion at Camp this year on their motto “Making Music Possible.” What resulted was a deeply inspiring discussion that included powerful stories from both our Instructors and Camp Participants. They shared personal accounts about individuals (quiet heros) in their own lives who in different ways, made playing music possible for them. We learned about organizations who give a tremendous amount of time, energy, and support to musicians, dancers, and artists in various communities and we heard about new initiatives through out Canada and the US that give people of all ages – musical, artistic, and cultural opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.
One example is a community of people in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley who are receiving music and dance lessons – for free or at a reduced cost. The teachers have chosen to put their students and the possibility for music, before themselves and own needs. Why? Because they don’t want the issue of money to stop anyone from knowing and experiencing the many gifts that playing music has to offer. This attitude and approach to musical development has literally changed the local culture of this community. And that’s not all, it greatly affected a number of people at our own Camp who since the symposium discussion, took similar action in their own ways. What also came of this discussion was a lesson in the power of dialogue…so much was learned and gained by everyone at the symposium. To say that it was extremely inspiring would be an understatement.
Another impressive program that we learned about is based in Hamilton, Ontario. It is known as AIFEC (An Instrument For Every Child). This program provides an instrument for every elementary child (grades 1-4) in Hamilton’s inner city schools. Instruction comes from qualified musicians from the local arts community and is free for the students. This is made possible because of the efforts of people who give of their time, energy, and financial support. What organizations like AIFEC are doing to make music education and exposure possible is invaluable – not just to students, but to society as a whole.
The East Aurora Music Boosters, Inc. is another group that we heard about from the founder herself…Lia Hanes-Stetter. Lia has attended our Camp for many years now and graciously shared her story about establishing a musical support group within her East Aurora Union Free School District. At only 16 years of age, she noted that all of the sports teams in her school had booster (support) groups and thought, why doesn’t music have a booster group as well? What has resulted from this simple question is an impressive non-profit organization of interested parents, teachers, alumni and community members dedicated to the promotion, support, and enrichment of the music program within the East Aurora Union Free School District. Lia has not only made musical opportunities more possible for her own peers, but she has helped to build and foster a culture of music in her own community that has the potential to serve even more people for a very long time.
Speaking of building a culture of music, Steve Quilley shared another really exciting initiative that is currently underway in his hometown of Elora, Ontario. In short, a group of musicians and committed parents who feel strongly about the communal and cultural aspect of music have launched an effort to start a School of Traditional Music and Dance. With an aim to re-invigorate and nurture a vibrant, community-based tradition of music and dance in a variety of local public spaces (churches, barns, schools, pubs, etc.), it is hoped that this School can serve the gifts that music has to offer to both its students and larger society as a whole. As such, the plan is for this School of Music be affiliated with a University, running both an undergrad and a Masters program (i.e. for credit). The mission of the School will focus on community engagement, teacher training, and the re-animation of traditional music and dance as a regular source of social cohesion and community celebrations. This is an extremely exciting initiative that hopes to train hundreds of teachers, performers and mentors, and thereby feed as well as re-seed local musical cultures all over Canada.
Among the many takeaways from this discussion was the realization that we all have the means and opportunity to do something….big or small. We can help make music possible for others by the music we share and the people and efforts we support. It doesn’t take much to make a huge difference in the musical life of another person. Maybe it’s giving away an old instrument that is packed away in a closet or the gift of music lessons to someone who can’t afford them. Perhaps it’s just listening….giving time and attention to someone endeavoring to play an instrument, sing, or dance. Maybe it’s hosting or attending a House Concert in your local area. In short, it is whatever one is able to do. There are so many more ideas out there that haven’t been listed. For this reason, we invite you all to keep this conversation going by sharing those ideas with us and each other. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing what possibilities can be brought to life.
Thank you D’Addario Canada for inspiring this conversation and for all that you’re doing to make music possible for others!