Authored by: Jeffrey D. Stauffer, Executive Director – [email protected], 443-393-7696
A young girl is singing in a recording studio to music she composed herself. A seventh grader who didn’t have his own trumpet last semester is now practicing at home to hit that high G for the first time. A middle school jazz band is listening to a replay of its winter concert on a new stereo system with HD speakers in its classroom. And, a third grader is handed a clarinet he’s always wanted to play for the first time and squeaks out the first note to the delight of his teacher.
Founded in 2014 by Mr. Stephen R. Elville, Esq., the mission of the Elville Center for the Creative Arts is to improve the quality of life of children of all ages by providing them the opportunity to learn music theory and application, experience cultural events related to the musical and creative arts, and to use music and the promotion of music-related activities to transcend social and economic divisions.
Since our last update, the Elville Center has continued to develop new relationships, including the music programs at George T. Cromwell Elementary in Glen Burnie, and Brooklyn Park Elementary in Baltimore. We recently visited with the Instrumental Music Director of these schools, Ms. Carol Cox, and found her to be very dedicated to her students and working hard to give the gift of music to them despite few resources at her disposal.
Ms. Cox mentioned that lack of funding for music at her schools doesn’t allow her to replace supplies once they are depleted, nor fix equipment and instruments when they break. The Elville Center encouraged her to provide a “wish list” of items that would benefit her classroom and students, which she quickly provided. Ms. Cox was also the first teacher to invite me to visit one of her classes during a “live session,” and I gladly accepted her offer.
A follow-up visit was set in November to deliver much-need items to benefit her schools’ music programs, including: an LG stereo system with CD player and Bluetooth capability; a trombone hard case, alto sax case, bass clarinet case, and trumpet case; boxes of reeds for clarinets and saxophones, oils and rosins; mouthpieces for instruments; and swabs for saxophones and clarinets.
The November delivery was just the beginning for Ms. Cox and her students, as the Elville Center visited George T. Cromwell again in December for an early holiday delivery to fulfill more items on her wish list. During this trip, the Elville Center assisted the music programs with three fully-refurbished violins with cases and new bows; three additional new violin cases for their existing instruments; snare drum stands, cello rock stop straps; and a bell kit with case.
“So many of our students don’t have access to an instrument or have the means to rent or buy one. I’ve seen music brighten the lives of so many students who face difficult challenges in and out of school,” noted Ms. Cox. “The school’s funds and equipment are lacking to meet the needs of all our students, so the extraordinary donations from the Elville Center for the Creative Arts are helping to bring music to more of our children. The kids’ excitement when presented with new equipment can’t be compared to anything except to how they might respond to a ton of Christmas gifts! Thank you to the Elville Center for elevating my students’ musical experience this year with your generous donations!”
The Elville Center’s relationship continues to grow with Dr. Max VanDerBeek and the music program at Wiley H. Bates Middle School. As readers may recall, Bates Middle is home to a Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) Middle School Magnet Program, which is designed to provide students who demonstrate artistic ability, interest and potential a curriculum of rigorous training that emphasizes the creative process through collaborative opportunities. However, due to financial constraints, many of the school’s students do not have the means to participate in music without some outside support.
Over the past several months, the Elville Center has supported Dr. VanDerBeek and the Bates music program with a wide variety of contributions, including three donated, refurbished trumpets; a donated Mapex drum set with cymbals; a donated set of conga drums; a donated, refurbished clarinet; two donated, refurbished flutes with new cases; a new keyboard case; new drum cases; reeds for various instruments and contributions towards repairs for instruments in its current inventory.
“We can’t thank the Elville Center enough for its support over the past two years,” said
Dr. VanDerBeek. “We’ve received over 30 instruments from the Elville Center and the difference they’ve made in our music program can’t be put into words.”
In January, the Elville Center’s Executive Director, Jeffrey Stauffer, and Dr. VanDerBeek, were interviewed by Jonathan Palevsky, popular radio personality at 91.5 WBJC, to discuss our partnership with Bates Middle School as well as our partnership with the classical music station. The interview can be heard in its entirety on the Elville Center’s website, www.elvillecenter.org.
“On behalf of the students and administration of Bates Middle School, we are extremely grateful to the Elville Center for our relationship,” said Dr. VanDerBeek. “They’ve given us wonderful, responsive support that has benefited our program so much.”
Mr. Elville and the Elville Center were recently featured in the 2017 Maryland Edition of Super Lawyers Magazine in the publication’s “Good Works – Lawyers Giving Back” section. The article discusses how Mr. Elville created the idea for the Charity, looked back on student Daniel Coleman’s initial involvement in developing the Charity’s first school relationship, and talked about the Charity’s desire to make an impact in the Baltimore City school systems, where the needs are most pressing.
“Mr. Elville and the Center have brought a whole new level of music to my life. Now that we have the instruments to learn, my peers and I are able to not just enjoy other people’s music, but our own,” said Daniel. “Students have spoken to me about how over the last couple of years, they were not able to play the instruments themselves, but rather on practice on paper. At school, they used to print out a picture of a piano keyboard and my friends would only be able to ‘play’ on the paper; they never were able to heard the notes. Now they get to enjoy the sound of the music they make.”
A link to the Super Lawyers article can be found on the Elville Center’s website, www.elvillecenter.org.
As was mentioned in the Super Lawyers article, the Charity has learned that, while there are needs to be fulfilled all over Maryland, the needs of Baltimore City schools’ are the most dire, and funding is needed for the Elville Center to work to fulfill the needs of these and other schools. An example is Franklin Square Elementary and Middle School in downtown Baltimore, whose band director, Mr. Marcus Neal, contacted the Elville Center because his music program did not have working music stands, valve oils, trombone slide oils and other supplies for the third and fourth quarters of this year. And, for every two children that want to play an instrument in his program, there is only one instrument to go around.
Fortunately, the Elville Center was able to fulfill Franklin Square’s initial needs, and we are actively working to add to the school’s musical instrument inventory. However, these needs will reoccur, and for every school that contacts the Elville Center, there are 10 in Baltimore City and beyond we have not yet met that have the same needs. Funding from donors is an integral part of the Charity’s ability to make a difference in the schools’ music programs.
The Elville Center is on the move in 2017, developing new partnerships and fostering existing ones as we continue to “Make a Musical Difference in the Lives of Children.” And, as a non-profit organization, we depend on the generosity of donors to help make our vision a reality, including donations of used musical instruments and general monetary pledges. The Elville Center continues to engage in new and exciting initiatives to capture the minds and hearts of our individual and corporate donors and surrounding communities. These initiatives
and donor opportunities include:
- sponsoring a child (young musician);
- sponsoring a specific school’s music program;
- sponsoring/facilitating a fundraising event;
- making a specifically directed monetary donation;
- making a gift in memoriam;
- volunteering/donating time to the Elville Center; and
- sponsoring the Elville Center through one’s business.
The Elville Center is actively seeking donations to further its important work. If you would like to donate or learn more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts and its initiatives, please visit www.elvillecenter.org, or contact Jeff Stauffer at [email protected], or 443-393-7696.