“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” -Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Guest Post by Marnae Horejs
Ever since I was little, I’ve loved playing the piano. I used to sit at our old, out-of-tune grand piano and play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by ear. I loved the patterns in the music and the way I could turn my thoughts and emotions into something audible. When I was ten, I started official piano lessons with Adrienne. Then, in seventh grade, I began taking piano, band, and choir at Arizona School for the Arts.
Music has always been such an important part of my life and education. Whether or not you play an instrument, I’m sure you can identify. Think back to one of your favorite memories— Christmas, a high school dance, a road trip. Music creates beautiful memories and helps them to last.
If you haven’t heard of the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra, check out this video. These kids are amazing musicians, but they wouldn’t have had access to instruments if it weren’t for this incredible program.
You don’t have to look all the way to Paraguay to find kids who don’t have access to musical instruments. Arts programs nationwide are suffering from budget cuts. According to an arts education census on azarts.gov, only 50% of Arizona schools have a budget for materials in arts classes. In our own state, a lot of kids don’t have access to musical instruments, and their talent and creativity slips through the cracks.
I’ve had an amazing opportunity to intern with a nonprofit called Restore Arts this semester. Mary Lynn Kelly and Herb Dougal co-founded Restore Arts to carry on the work of Ear Candy, a well-known Phoenix charity that changed location and name a few years ago.
Restore Arts focuses primarily on collecting instruments sitting unused in garages, closets, etc. and donating them to schools and other programs that need them, giving kids the opportunity to experience the beauty of music.
Sometimes people keep instruments that they haven’t played in years because they’re emotionally attached to them. Music triggers memories and people don’t want to let those memories go. Restore Arts provides a bridge between people who have instruments and people who need them. If the owner of an instrument knows that it will go directly to someone who needs it and will cherish it the way they did, it’s much easier for them to let it go. I’ve even heard Mary Lynn and Herb talk about making arrangements for people to be able to visit their instruments wherever they’re placed.
Restore Arts gets requests for instruments through their website. You can see the requests there and donate the needed instruments if you have them. There are drop-off locations and bins for instruments around the state, all of which are listed under “Donate an Instrument” tab. Restore Arts doesn’t do the job half-heartedly; they make sure that all donated instruments are in mint condition before getting them where they need to go. You can also donate monetarily to help with instrument repairs.
Interning with Restore Arts has been a life-changing experience. I’ve had the opportunity to help out at fun events, including the Phoenix Festival of the Arts and the opening of Tempe Sound at the Tempe History Museum (which now has an instrument bin). Mary Lynn, the queen of creative ideas and networking, and Herb, who executes everything with an amazing eye for detail, are both wonderful people who use what they’re passionate about to make a difference in the world. They serve with excitement and real sincerity. I’m so grateful for their example and for the things I’ve learned from working with them in this wonderful organization.
If you have an instrument from high school sitting around, donate it! If not (or even if you do), consider making a contribution to help restore instruments. To learn more about the importance of arts in education and how you can help, visit http://www.restorearts.org/.