Perhaps Greg Riley’s request will strike a chord.
The Dallas High School band director asks that you go to your attic, closet or garage to retrieve the forgotten flute, unused oboe or other unwanted musical instrument, then donate the item so a student can practice and one day perform on a school stage — or maybe a more sizable one.
Resurrect the trombone tucked beneath the bed. Pull the trumpet off the shelf.
If you can’t deliver it to one of the district’s schools, Riley will arrange for pickup, he told The Times Leader for an article printed in Saturday’s edition. The contribution is tax deductible.
Begun early last month, Dallas’ campaign to collect gently used instruments from within the school district and beyond sounds resourceful, but also hints at a harsh reality. Certain area students can’t afford to rent, much less purchase, instruments that can cost hundreds of dollars. A new clarinet, for instance, sells for about $800.
Young people who don’t, or can’t, participate in music education might be at a disadvantage, say proponents of the in-school programs.
Ample evidence suggests that children who study music develop larger vocabularies and read better than their non-musical peers, according to information distributed by the Reston, Va.-based National Association for Music Education. Other studies draw correlations between band participation and school attendance, academic success, and the likelihood a young person will go to college — the sorts of outcomes that adults should encourage.
Even so, school budgets can be stretched only so far.
At Dallas, says Riley, “We’re … trying to find alternative methods to support our music program.” The collection campaign had yielded about 10 instruments, including a couple clarinets and a tenor saxophone, prior to the newspaper’s report, he said.
If flooded with French horns or other instruments beyond the district’s needs, Riley probably would find a way to share the donations with deserving students elsewhere. After all, individuals passionate about music — and knowledgeable about its potential impacts on young people — tend to want to share it widely.
If you can donate an instrument to the Dallas School District, or a school closer to you, please do so this holiday season. For the young recipient, your gift might prove to be helpful for a few years, or healing at the right moments or transformative for life.