ASO conducts drive for music instruments

Popular program created unprecedented demand in Anne Arundel schools

January 06, 2000|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra seems to be a victim of its own success, encouraging so many county schoolchildren to sign up to study music that there is a shortage of instruments available free to kids whose families can't afford the rental fees.

In May, the orchestra instituted an education program called the Music Van, which visits third-graders, encouraging them to participate in their school's music education program. In six weeks, the van traveled to 13 area elementary schools, giving children a "hands-on experience" with instruments.

The result? More pupils than ever have begun music lessons at the schools, according to symphony education director Pamela Chaconas. All the school instruments available have been claimed.

Among the children who signed up for music lessons in the fall were some whose families couldn't afford the rental cost of $10 to $50 a month, depending on the instrument.

In response, the orchestra began an instrument drive in October, and Chaconas has been trying to get the word out to people who may have unused musical instruments to donate them for the children.

Those instruments could be added to the 30 collected at the three symphony-designated locations.

Many more are needed. The symphony has arranged with three music stores to serve as drop-off locations: Rosso Music Centers, the Annapolis and Glen Burnie stores; Brass On Ivory in Edgewater; and Music and Arts Center in Severna Park.

Shelley Mick and the staff of Music and Arts Center have been dedicated to the instrument drive since it began. Mick promises that any instruments turned in to the Music and Arts Center will be refurbished before being sent to the symphony for distribution to the schools.

Chaconas said donors who drop off instruments at any of the locations will get a receipt with the appraised value of the instrument for tax purposes.

Chaconas keeps a scrapbook filled with notes from children who were inspired by the orchestra to take music lessons, some promising to join the orchestra one day.

The Music Van program will be expanded to more Anne Arundel County schools in the spring, which might result in an even greater instrument shortage than the schools are now experiencing.

Information: Pamela Chaconas, 410-269-1132.

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