By: Jeffrey D. Stauffer – Executive Director – Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc.; Community Relations Director – Elville and Associates, P.C.
“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.” John Denver
As the Elville Center for the Creative Arts looks back on the 2022-23 school year and the thought of the upcoming fall semester is like the faintest first light of the morning sunrise, the foundation of its mission remains the same as we work to “Make a Musical Difference in the Lives of Children” each day.
How do we accomplish this somewhat daunting yet worthwhile to its core mission? The Elville Center provides student musicians 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. The Elville Center partners with school music programs, arts organizations, and local businesses to give the gift of music to children of all ages who want to participate in music but don’t have the means to do so on their own. The Elville Center refurbishes donated musical instruments, provides rental instruments, offers support to develop new music programs, partners with professional symphonies and other organizations to fund music education initiatives, and much more.
As I’ve mentioned before, now more than ever, the support of interested clients, financial advisors, and community members like you is critical to the Elville Center’s continued ability to keep music alive, and in many cases help restore music to schools and the thousands of student musicians in Maryland that aren’t afforded the opportunities they desire to participate in music. During my travels to schools throughout central Maryland, I have seen firsthand the tragedy that has occurred when music programs have been deemphasized. Countless programs in existence don’t have the necessities to function properly to give student musicians the experiences they deserve. Teachers do not have their own money to pour into their programs to pay for needed equipment, supplies, and instruments. Funding for music remains extremely low and there are not enough instruments and equipment to go around for every student that wants to participate. With inflation rearing its ugly head, even more students than before cannot afford the necessities to play in band, orchestral, or choral programs.
If you’ve ever thought about getting involved and supporting the Elville Center, now is the time to do so!
Since our last newsletter update the Elville Center has donated over 80 instruments to our school music programs and organizations we support – a record number in a six-month timeframe! Just some of our many success stories of partnership and possibility are below. And, to reiterate – this would not be possible without donations from interested people like you who support organizations like the Elville Center!
Maryland School for the Blind
As I’ve mentioned before, it is always gratifying when we’re contacted requesting support to help start a music program from the ground up. That is the case with the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB), as Mrs. Lynnieh Hoffman, Music Director at the school, contacted the Elville Center requesting support in the form of donations of all types of musical instruments for its growing music program.
As mentioned on its website, the mission of the MSB is “to serve students with blindness or low-vision of all abilities from birth through 21 throughout their educational journey.” MSB provides private educational programs to students in all 24 Maryland counties from birth to age 21 who are blind or low vision of all abilities. And, as we all know music can play a pivotal part in the growth of those who have developmental disabilities.
Some very famous musicians have been blind over the years, including Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Ronnie Milsap, to name a few. Ludwig van Beethovan also began to lose his hearing when he was 28 and was completely deaf at age 44.
The Elville Center was grateful for the opportunity to help this new music program and its student musicians and contributed eight electric guitars, four violins of varying sizes, two keyboards, two clarinets, and two trumpets. While Ms. Hoffman requested instruments in “fair condition,” as is always the case every instrument the Elville Center donated was fully refurbished and in “excellent” and “like new” playing condition thanks to donor support.
The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Sponsorship and Annapolis Symphony Academy
As the Elville Center continues its support as a major sponsor of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, a professional orchestra in Annapolis based in historic Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, we continue to be amazed at the depth of breadth of the ASO and all it offers its community – through its Masterworks Concert Series and other musical endeavors throughout the year; to its commitment to education by way of its Concerts for Schoolchildren Series; to hosting musicians in the classroom; and last but certainly not least, to its Annapolis Symphony Academy. The Symphony has a variety of music and educational programs for everyone.
“Music education is for all of us. Regardless of age, background or musical talent, we all benefit from these programs,” said Jose-Luis Novo, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Music Director. “Research clearly shows that music education programs prepare students to learn, facilitate student achievement, and develop the creative capacities for lifelong success. Beyond the academic and emotional benefits of music, we also believe in the restorative powers of music. In short, music improves lives, which is why the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra offers a broad spectrum of programs.”
In July, ASO Concertmaster as well as the Annapolis Symphony Academy Founder and Director Netanel Draiblate will be stopping by our office to pick up five cellos and an oboe we have waiting for him to benefit the Academy. As you may recall, the Academy is the ASO’s tuition-free youth orchestra the Elville Center’s sponsorship supports on an annual basis. To say it is growing quickly would be an understatement! Last fall we donated 35 instruments to this very worthwhile endeavor and we will continue to put our full support behind it. For more information about the Academy please visit https://annapolissymphony.org/annapolis-symphony-academy/.
Over the past year, as an added benefit to our partnership, the Annapolis Symphony has graciously provided free tickets to several of its concerts to Elville and Associates’ clients, and that will continue into the 2023-24 season. Be on the lookout for further information from me about additional free ticket offerings from the Symphony in the fall!
Baltimore Classical Guitar Society
The Baltimore Classical Guitar Society, which offers a groundbreaking “Guitars for Change” program for at-risk youths we’ve discussed in previous charity updates, has added a new program named “Guitars for Veterans.” This new initiative is in collaboration with Perry Point VA Medical Center in Perry Point, Maryland.
The program provides veterans in its outpatient program with free acoustic guitars, lessons and accessories in a 10-week program. After the veterans complete the 10-week course the guitars will be theirs to keep.
Along with the many classical (nylon-string) guitars the Elville Center has provided the Guitars for Change program over the years, we have begun offering acoustic (steel-string) guitars to the Guitars for Veterans program. I was fortunate to catch up with our good friend, president of the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society Asgerdur Sigurdardottir, and her husband, world-renowned classical guitarist Manuel Barrueco, in April and delivered 14 fully refurbished acoustic and classical guitars for the benefit of the Guitars for Change and Guitars for Veterans programs.
Every one of those guitars I delivered was a donation from an interested person such as yourself in the Elville Center! So, if you have a guitar you would like to donate to the Elville Center, we are actively looking for classical and acoustic guitars to benefit the programs mentioned above. As always, all donations made to the Elville Center are tax-deductible and I provide tax donation letters to support your donations.
Yet another project of interest offered by the BCGS is the pilot Lullaby Project. During this program the Society paired teenage moms with Grammy-winning songwriters Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and together they wrote personal lullabies for their babies. The pilot program took place in Annapolis with additional projects having taken place this past spring in Owings Mills and Essex. To view more about the Lullaby Project you can watch a YouTube video about it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pxn6atNl9HI&t=5s
Before moving on, I wanted to share one more item about the Guitars for Change program I mentioned before that is worth repeating. The following link is a performance by some of the program participants at a recent concert of the beautiful song “Remember Me” from the hit movie “Coco.” Many of the guitars being used were donated by the Elville Center! I encourage you to watch – it will be the best three minutes of your day! You can view it here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC-hKrbQmac
Please consider donating to the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society! You can visit its website at www.bcgs.org, or you can donate to the Elville Center so we can do more to support this outstanding arts organization!
Southgate Elementary School
It is always a great day when I get to visit with Mr. Timothy Jessilonis, Strings and Band Teacher at Southgate Elementary School in Glen Burnie. “Mr. J” as they call him at the school along with the entire office staff at Southgate have a positive, infectious energy that is palpable the second I walk into the school. They are friendly, inviting, and accommodating and I always feel at home there when dropping off donations!
With a fast-evolving music program, Mr. J’s students have many needs right now and that will continue with the energy he brings to the classroom. The Elville Center provided two trumpets, two trombones, two violins and two flutes along with a much-needed drum set. The Elville Center also provided several violin bows along with some boxes of clarinet and alto saxophone reeds for the program (music programs with young students go through reeds quickly – and they are expensive!).
Mr. J remarked after our visit, “Southgate appreciates the Elville Center’s donations so much. Earlier this year, we had many students who were unable to access the music program at all, and some that were put onto instruments they weren’t in love with playing. The donations from Elville have inspired many of our students to learn great practice habits which transfer to every part of their lives. We have a record number of rising 5th grade students going into middle school as musicians this year. Starting 6th grade in music, these students have a built-in group of friends. We have great footing to begin with another record year in Southgate band and strings thanks to the Elville Center. Thank you again!”
To that I would say – “You are very welcome, Mr. J! I will see you again in the fall and am looking forward to it!”
Monarch Academy in Annapolis
As I mentioned in our winter charity update, we have partnered with Monarch Academy in Annapolis for several years, and this International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme World School has a rather robust inventory of instruments thanks in large part to the Elville Center’s support over the years. However, as is the case in most schools this past year, it has seen tremendous growth in its music program – my thought being with schools returning to no masks across the board and a sense of normalcy there are no barriers to children wanting to participate this year (and many teachers have that same thought). Thanks to donor support, the Elville Center had specific instruments in its inventory needed by Monarch, which included several ¾- and ½-size violins along with some full-size ones as well. We were also able to donate a much-needed saxophone, trumpet, and two excellent Pearl bell kits. Lastly, Instrumental Music Teacher Amie Brannon took me up on the charity’s offer and received some boxes of clarinet reeds and strings for violins. You will probably believe it when I say there is no funding in place for vital supplies and equipment such as reeds and strings that make these instruments function – unless the teacher pays out of pocket for them!
Sisters Academy of Baltimore
Our relationship with Sisters Academy of Baltimore continues to run in high gear, and it’s hard to keep up with these young ladies!
Ms. Alison Johnson, Music Teacher at the Academy proactively reached out to me in spring of 2022 regarding many, many needs for her growing music program. Its student musicians, whose primary focus under the guidance of the Academy is to “become agents of transformation in their families, communities and society,” maintain a laser focus on their education, which includes a “rigorous academic curriculum and holistic program that encourages each student’s intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual development.”
After replacing a set of Suzuki Chromatic ToneChimes this past fall along with about 15 other very specific needs for the Academy, this spring the Elville Center continued its work as we repaired six very important instruments with the help of our friends at The Band Shoppe in Catonsville and donated three violins, two trumpets, two flutes, two clarinets, and a saxophone.
We look forward to seeing how far this music program can go with such talented students, a dedicated teacher, and an administration that understands the importance of music education! The Elville Center will be there with Sisters Academy every step of the way!
The Elville Center continues its support of Germantown Elementary’s band and strings programs. Over the past year these programs, under the direction of National Board-Certified Teacher Andrew Ritenour, have seen a significant uptick in its members, and according to Mr. Ritenour, “thanks to the generous donations from the Elville Center in the past, we were able to get almost every child on their first choice of instrument they wanted to play!”
With continued growth comes continued needs, and the Elville Center rounded out Mr. Ritenour’s instrument inventory with two alto saxophones, two trumpets, two flutes, and four violins of varying sizes along with several new violin bows and a new case for one of his existing violins.
“Germantown Elementary has benefited immensely from the efforts of the Elville Center for the Creative Arts. Through their efforts, Mr. Stauffer and his team have helped to place instruments into the hands of students who would otherwise be unable to participate,” noted Mr. Ritenour. “The social and academic benefits to students who are involved in instrumental music are well-known, and the Elville Center for the Creative Arts has been a partner to our school to make these benefits a reality for many current and future students. We couldn’t be more grateful to all who have supported the Elville Center and for the efforts of this team to help our students to experience a well-rounded education that is inclusive of the arts!”
The Columbia Orchestra
The Elville Center is once again proud to support and sponsor the guest artists at The Columbia Orchestra’s Family Holiday Concert and Young People’s Concert during its 2023-24 season for a seventh consecutive year. This year’s concert dates are still to be determined, but we are already looking forward to them and will be at The Jim Rouse Theatre in Columbia when they happen! Tickets can be purchased for all Columbia Orchestra concerts at www.columbiaorchestra.org.
The Elville Center for the Creative Arts needs your support to further its important work and help develop new relationships and further existing ones that are depending on the charity. Every one of the refurbished instruments, pieces of equipment, and supplies the Elville Center provides music programs along with educational initiatives we support are not possible without donor support. We need those instruments that you don’t use anymore and are taking up space. And, most importantly, we need your monetary support to help refurbish those instruments, purchase supplies, and facilitate cultural learning experiences for student musicians. A clarinet averages about $160 to refurbish; a saxophone – typically $230; and a violin – $130. This does not include new bows and cases we purchase to go along with the instruments being refurbished so they’re like new for their new homes!
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, all donations made to the Elville Center are tax-deductible. To donate or learn more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, please visit www.elvillecenter.org, contact Jeff Stauffer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 443-393-7696 x117 (Jeff’s office line). We appreciate and value your support!