By: Jeffrey D. Stauffer – Executive Director – Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc.
“Music expresses feeling and thought, without language; it was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond and words.” – Robert G. Ingersol
As the Elville Center for the Creative Arts celebrated its six-year anniversary in June, the foundation of its mission remains the same as we work 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, providing rental instruments, offering support to develop music programs, partnering with professional symphonies and other organizations to fund music education initiatives, and much more.
Though the situation has improved, as we know the COVID discussion has not gone away in schools and now more than ever the support of interested clients and community members like you is critical to the Elville Center’s continued ability to keep music alive, and in many cases, help restore and enhance music to schools and the thousands of student musicians in Maryland that aren’t afforded the opportunities they desire to participate in music. School music programs are being defunded, and countless programs in existence don’t have the necessary funding, instruments, equipment, and supplies to give student musicians the experiences they deserve and desire. Teachers do not have their own money to pour into their programs to pay for needed equipment, supplies, and instruments – but they sometimes pour their own money into their programs anyway for the benefit of their students they believe in and care about so much. To make matters more difficult, music teachers are searching for and finding creative ways to teach music with students in masks in their rooms. The Elville Center must be part of the solution for these programs.
Before we discuss how we’ve been helping our school music partners this fall semester, let’s talk a bit about some other organizations we support that are making a difference in children’s lives.
The Baltimore Classical Guitar Society, which offers a groundbreaking “Guitars for Change” program for at-risk youths we’ve discussed in previous charity updates, is adding a new pilot program which will be under the umbrella of “Guitars for Change” – tentatively to be named “Guitars for Veterans.”
This new initiative will be in collaboration with Perry Point VA Medical Center in Perry Point, Maryland. The program will provide veterans in its outpatient program with free acoustic guitars, lessons and accessories in a 10-week program starting in the spring of 2022. This program will be offered in both the spring and fall semesters with a summer course as well. 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 new Guitars for Veterans program. I was fortunate to catch up with our good friend, president of the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society Asgerdur Sigurdardottir, the week before Thanksgiving and delivered eight fully refurbished acoustic and classical guitars for the benefit of the Guitars for Change and Guitars for Veterans programs.
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.
Before moving on, I wanted to share one more item about the Guitars for Change program that made my day recently. 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
Moving on, as Executive Director of the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc., I am thrilled to announce the Elville Center has signed a five-year commitment to continue as a major sponsor of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. Steve Elville and I were afforded the opportunity to meet with ASO Executive Director Dr. Edgar Herrera, Annapolis Symphony Academy Director Dr. Netanel Draiblate, and ASA Program Coordinator Julie Nolan at the ASA’s home at Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold in early November 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.
We learned the Annapolis Symphony Academy is the educational arm to the ASO and has expanded from 20 students at its inception to over 60 in just over a few years. I think it is expressed best by ASO Music Director Jose-Luis Nov and Dr. Draiblate in the ASA’s introductory video. In the video they said, among other thoughts, “We have some exciting news to share. ASA launched three years ago and has experienced exponential growth. Students experience private lessons, orchestral training, guest workshops, and access to Annapolis Symphony Orchestra rehearsals and concerts. Teachers are actual ASO musicians, and it is extremely rare to be afforded this opportunity to learn from such experienced teachers. The ASO is equal opportunity to all and has a diverse student body, and financial aid is available. Music is vital to any child’s development, developing and enhancing brain activity and further developing brain activity and allowing better language skills, leadership abilities, and academic abilities. Albert Einstein, Neil Armstrong, and Thomas Edison are just a few examples of incredible individuals who played musical instruments.”
Dr. Draiblate’s and Maestro Novo’s full message can be found at www.TunedToYouth.org and I strongly encourage you to check it out!
This is an extremely important endeavor for the Elville Center, as the ASO and its strong educational initiatives through the Annapolis Symphony Academy check every box within the Center’s mission of improving the quality of life of children of all ages by providing them the opportunity to learn music theory and application, experiencing cultural events related to the musical and creative arts, and using music and the promotion of music-related activities to transcend social and economic divisions. When asked to comment on the Elville Center’s new long-term commitment to the ASO, Dr. Draiblate remarked, “We are immensely thankful for the generosity of the Elville Center for the Creative Arts in support of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s educational programs, primarily our biggest and newest initiative: The Annapolis Symphony Academy. Over the next five years this gift will provide more students access to high-level musical instruction given by leading Annapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians, regardless of the student’s background or ability to pay. The Annapolis Symphony Academy is an afterschool music program of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, providing private lessons, ensemble training and concert access among other musical opportunities to students in the MD/DC/VA area. The Academy offers need-based financial aid to those who cannot afford musical instruction and is designed to address the lack of diversity in the modern American orchestra. About fifty percent of our student body hails from underrepresented backgrounds in the orchestral landscape. This 50/50 model promotes interaction, the ability to bridge differences, and promote long-lasting relationships through music.”
We wish to thank Dr. Herrera, Dr. Draiblate, Ms. Nolan and everyone at the ASO and ASA for their partnership and leadership in the music education arena for children of all backgrounds. The best is yet to come!
As has been the case since our inception, the Elville Center continues to make our school music program partners a primary focus of the work we do on a daily basis. Providing donated refurbished musical instruments to children who want to participate in music but cannot afford an instrument is vital to ensure all students who want to explore music have the opportunity to do so. Most school music programs simply do not have the inventory to provide every student with an instrument that needs one. This fall the Elville Center delivered over 50 instruments to schools throughout central Maryland, which is one of my favorite parts of my role as executive director of the charity. We’ve developed new relationships with many schools over the past several months, including Bodkin Elementary in Lake Shore, Braddock Middle in Cumberland, West Annapolis Elementary in Annapolis, Annapolis Elementary in Annapolis, Germantown Elementary in Annapolis, and Ducketts Lane Elementary in Elkridge, with other new relationships pending. Seeing the smiles on the hardworking teachers’ faces and the gratitude they express when I visit them cannot be overstated. Below are comments from some teachers I visited recently with instruments in hand sharing their thoughts about how the Elville Center have benefitted their school music programs and student musicians:
Ms. Carol Cox, NBCT – Instrumental Music – Bodkin Elementary (Lake Shore)
“Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc. under the direction of Jeff Stauffer has been nothing short of a huge blessing for my public school programs. Historically, many of the school instruments that are lent to students in need are “well loved” and often older than the student — some are, dare I say, even older than myself. Thanks to the Elville Center, I have been able to accommodate more students with high-quality instruments and have even been able to retire some instruments in my inventory. Without their help, the time and effort to make these upgrades happen would have kept dozens and dozens of children from experiencing the joy of instrumental music! Thank you to Steve Elville, Jeff Stauffer and the Elville Center for the Creative Arts!!”
Mr. Andrew Ritenour – Band Director – Germantown Elementary, West Annapolis Elementary, and Annapolis Elementary
“As a Title 1 school, Germantown, West Annapolis, and Annapolis Elementary Schools serve many students who are financially unable to rent or buy instruments to participate in Band and Orchestra. Donations like those through the Elville Center for the Creative Arts help to ensure that all students – regardless of economic status – can enjoy the benefits of a well-rounded education inclusive of instrumental music. We are lucky to have the support of Mr. Elville, Mr. Stauffer, and the Elville Center for the Creative Arts and thank all who have supported this foundation to make these experiences accessible to our students!”
Ms. Christine Brimhall – Director of Instrumental Music – Monarch Academy Annapolis
Thank you for your donation of instruments to Monarch Annapolis. We have received one saxophone, three trumpets, and a flute. Your donation will be used by the students at our Title 1 School. The students that will use these instruments and materials are students that are unable to rent the necessary items to participate in band or strings. With your donation, more students can participate in instrumental music. In addition, these materials will remain at Monarch Annapolis so that future students can participate in our music program. Again, thank you for your support!”
Dr. Maximus Vanderbeek – Instrumental Music and Band Director – Wiley H. Bates Middle School
“Bates Middle school in Annapolis has benefited in great ways from the Elville Center for the Creative Arts. They continue to provide funding support for a monthly guest professional artist to visit our band students. They provide much needed funds for things like clarinet and saxophone reeds which our students’ families typically cannot provide. Lastly, they recently donated eight quality refurbished instruments to our band and orchestra. The impact of this cannot be overestimated. Thank you to the Elville Center from all of us at Bates Middle.”
After speaking with many teachers and organizational leaders in the community over the years, I dare say it is not a stretch to say we are a very unique program here at the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, and we are blessed to have donors and interested readers like you help make our vision of “Making a Musical Difference in the Lives of Children” each day a reality. I constantly here statements to the effect of, “I had no idea there was a program like you around,” and “I’ve been needing something like this for the longest time and am so glad we found each other.”
The Elville Center needs your support to further its important work and help develop new relationships that are depending on the charity. Every one of the refurbished instruments and equipment 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 in need.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, all donations made to the Elville Center are tax-deductible, and as we start off the new year, now is an ideal time to consider donations for tax deduction purposes – start the year off on the right foot! To learn even more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, please visit www.elvillecenter.org, contact Jeff Stauffer at email@example.com, or call 443-676- 9691. Or, to donate through Paypal or Venmo (@elvillecenter), visit www.elvillecenter/donate. We value and appreciate your support!
From left to right, Executive Director Jeff Stauffer delivering instruments to Monarch Academy’s Christine Brimhall, Germantown Elementary’s Andrew Ritenour, and Bodkin Elementary’s Carol Cox.