By: Jeffrey D. Stauffer – Executive Director

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.  If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”    Albert Einstein

As the Elville Center for the Creative Arts celebrates its eight-year anniversary this summer, the foundation of our mission remains the same as the day we opened our doors and minds to the concept of working to “Make a Musical Difference in the Lives of Children” each day 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. The Elville Center partners with school music programs and other music organizations 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. We do this by refurbishing donated musical instruments, purchasing new instruments for programs, offering overarching support to developing music programs, partnering with professional symphonies and other organizations to fund music education initiatives, and much more.

As schools got back to in person concerts and music filled packed auditoriums once again, the Elville Center remained extremely busy helping provide instruments and supplies to school music programs around the state.  Below are two examples of developing relationships that have kept the Elville Center busy the past several months.

The Annapolis Symphony Academy and Orion Youth Orchestra

First, an update to our growing partnership with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Annapolis Symphony Academy.  As I mentioned in our winter charity update, back in November Steve Elville and I were afforded the opportunity to meet with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Executive Director Dr. Edgar Herrera, Annapolis Symphony Academy Director and Founder Dr. Netanel Draiblate, and ASA Program Coordinator Julie Nolan at the ASA’s home at Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold to learn more about the ASO’s recent activities and initiatives. We also wanted to learn how our support could be make the biggest impact for the ASO community, not just now but over the next several years.  After that meeting, we were so moved by what we heard and saw that the next day we signed a five-year major sponsorship agreement with the Annapolis Symphony to support its educational initiatives within the communities it serves.

Since then, Dr. Draiblate and his fellow musicians in the Orchestra, Ms. Kimberly Valerio (flute) and Mr. David Perkel (trombone) have visited the Elville Center two times and left with a total of 35 instruments for its expanding Annapolis Symphony Academy programs, including its Orion Youth Orchestra and growing band and jazz ensembles.  They were overwhelmed at the selection of instruments we had on hand and the quality of the instruments, which were all fully refurbished and in like-new playing condition.  

 What a wonderful success story for the Elville Center, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Annapolis Symphony Academy!  And, most importantly, the students in the Academy Orchestras and Ensembles!

 To build on that success, a trio of student musicians from the ASA’s Orion Youth Orchestra performed at Elville and Associates’ annual Client Event in May.  Leading the orchestral trio of two violinists and one cellist was Dr. Netanel Draiblate, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster and founder of the ASA.  The student musicians performed several classical music pieces and looked, acted, and sounded like a professional orchestral trio!  Unknown to guests, the students got together of their own accord at 6 a.m. that morning to practice one more time before the event – what true dedication to their craft!  

Sisters Academy of Baltimore

Just as the ASO/ASA relationship is one that has grown with effort and support over time, we have the same high hopes for a new partnership recently developed this spring with Sisters Academy of Baltimore.  The Academy is “a tuition-free, Catholic, community-centered middle school that educates girls of different races, ethnicities and religions from families with limited economic means in southwest and west Baltimore. The Academy empowers its students to become agents of transformation in their families, communities, and society.”  In May, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Jeanne Dolamore, Principal; Ms. Eileen Phelps, Development Director; and Ms. Alison Johnson, Music Teacher, at the Halethorpe-based Academy to learn about the school, its staff and students, and its music program’s current situation, its vision and needs.   

 Last September the school was fortunate to hire Ms. Johnson through Notre Dame’s Operation Teach Program, and in the words of Ms. Phelps, “she has been a true gift – a natural educator, who the students took to immediately.”  Before her arrival and due to Covid, very little was happening musically at the school, so a three-pronged long-term plan was put into place.  This involved building a general music program, a choir and instrumental program, and an experiential extended day program with music offerings including bells, guitar, and keyboard for starters.  Good strides have been made on all three fronts, and recently Ms. Johnson has been doing a thorough inventory of instruments recently donated to the school.

One of our biggest issues facing the music program right now are donated Instruments they currently could use that they do not have the funds to repair – and they know they will have the same issue with future donated instruments.  Current repair needs include:

  • 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, 1 euphonium, 5 clarinets, and 4 saxophones
  • 1 cello and 2 – 3 violins that are in need of being repaired or set up properly (fallen sound posts, new strings, fine tuners required, etc.)

The ongoing need for instrumental accessories are in line with the above as well – from violin bows of various sizes, to strings, rosins, shoulder pads and things like instrumental reeds for clarinets.  The program also does not have any music stands for its students.  

As alluded to above, the program has two sets of beautiful hand chimes and one set of handbells that get a lot of use.  Ms. Johnson has resurrected some hand chimes that were donated but several of them are starting to show a great deal of wear.  While these sets are integral pieces to the music program, they are not sustainable in the long term.  Ms. Johnson has identified the following needs:

  1. replacement clappers for most of the hand chimes, those these have been difficult to identify and locate – or replacing the sets in full
  2. In order to use the handbells, specialty padding is needed for the tables on which they sit cut at custom sizes
  3. Bell ringing (specialty) folders that can be attached to the tables for ease of reading

With all of this information in hand, the Elville Center sprang into action and is fulfilling several needs for Ms. Johnson, her students and The Sisters Academy music program as a whole, including:

    1. Purchasing 15 music stands as a start for the program.  This was five more than Ms. Johnson mentioned would make an immediate impact for the program.
    2. Taking all of the instruments in the program’s inventory needing refurbishments to Music & Arts of Severna Park to refurbish as many of the instruments as practical
    3. Donating 11 requested musical instruments to the program, including five flutes, three violins with bows, two trombones, one clarinet, and one keyboard.  More will be available to the program as the fall semester’s needs become more clear
    4. Donating several extra violin bows and a cello bow.
    5. Researching costs and replacement options for the hand chime sets.  This is a significant expenditure that will cost $1,000 – $1,300 per set, and donor support will be paramount to help the Elville Center fulfill this important need for the program.  
    6. Researching and contacting the company that makes the special foam padding for the hand bells to determine a solution to the custom padding needs for the program’s bells

 I detailed The Sisters Academy program situation as it is a perfect example of a school music program we look forward to helping grow and succeed now and in the years to come.  There are three critical factors we look for when partnering with a school that is developing a music program, all of which The Sisters Academy has: 1) it has the support of the school’s administration; 2) it has a dedicated teacher that is invested in and cares for her students very much; and 3) its students truly care about music and want to see the program grow.   As they say at Sisters Academy and in the words of Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, “Our children must know that they are miracles.”  

The Elville Center needs your support to further its important work and help develop and further new relationships such as Sisters Academy of Baltimore and continue to grow existing ones that are depending on the charity. Virtually every single one of the refurbished instruments and equipment the Elville Center provides 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 in need such as those students at Sisters Academy.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, all donations made to the Elville Center are tax-deductible.  Right now is an ideal time to consider a donation – it feels good to know you made a difference!  

To learn even more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, please visit, contact Executive Director Jeff Stauffer at, or call 443-676- 9691. Or, to donate through Paypal or Venmo (@elvillecenter), visit www.elvillecenter/donate. We appreciate and value your support!