Highline’s ‘Music4Life’ To Expand Instrumental Music In South King County
A new community initiative announced at Wednesday night’s (May 25) school board meeting will expand instrumental music education for children in Highline Public Schools – called the Highline Music4Life program, it “will acquire musical instruments and supplies for eligible elementary students.”
Working cooperatively with the Highline School District to facilitate this new program are three Rotary clubs located within the district as well as Music4Life™, all non-profit organizations.
“Our goal is to provide every student in the district an opportunity to play a musical instrument, if they want to, regardless of their ability to afford it,” says Steve Swank of the Des Moines Rotary Club. “We do this at a time of financial challenge because research shows that students who study instrumental music do better in math, science, history, languages and many other academic disciplines. We believe that, when funding is low, it is time for the community to step-up.”
“Music4Life is a great example of how the community is partnering with schools to support our students,” says Highline Superintendent John Welch. “We are grateful to Rotary for initiating this project. Many children who cannot afford an instrument will now have the opportunity to participate in band. That’s especially important in Highline, where more than two-thirds of our students live in poverty.”
“Highline Music4Life is a community service activity that is Rotary-inspired, but you don’t have to be a member of a Rotary club to support it,” adds David Endicott of Music4Life. “We’re very glad to have the support of anyone who understands the immense value of instrumental music in a child’s life.” He says musical instruments are acquired for Highline Music4Life in two ways.
“Many adults no longer play musical instruments that are gathering dust in their attics and garages,” he says. “We gratefully accept those ‘lovingly used’ instruments, repair them as needed and then donate them to Highline Schools.” Used musical instruments can be dropped-off at Kennelly Keys Music in South Center or the KeyBank branch at 22033 Marine View Drive in Des Moines.
“We also buy new musical instruments that the Highline band and orchestra directors tell us they need for eligible young musicians.” Donations also help take care of musical supplies and repairs. Endicott says monetary donations can be made via PayPal accounts or by visiting the www.HighlineMusic4Life.org Website.
Highline Music4Life begins by providing musical instruments to fifth and sixth graders who qualify for the free- and reduced-lunch program.
“In special circumstances, we can provide instruments to older children, as well,” Endicott says. “Our goal is to enable as many young people to take advantage of these instrumental music opportunities as possible.”
“We know that there are students interested in instrumental music but don’t have the resources to acquire an instrument,” said Stefan Nelson, the new Cultural Arts Specialist for Highline Public Schools. “As a matter of equity, we need to increase the availability of instruments to all of our students, especially for our schools in high poverty areas. With enough new or used instruments, we can increase elementary instrumental music participation significantly.”
Currently, 24 percent of all fifth and sixth grade students in Highline Public Schools participate in instrumental music programs. The Highline Music4Life initiative intends to increase that number to 40 percent.
Rotary has a history of supporting music education in area public schools. In addition, Highline Music4Life enjoys the support of notable music advocates and other community leaders.
Gerard Schwarz, world-renowned conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, endorsed the program, saying, “This wonderful program begins with children in elementary school at a time when, if they’re interested and talented in any way, they have the greatest chance of success. Many people tell me of the impact that direct knowledge of instrumental music has had on their lives. We intend to give this advantage to all our children.”
Music4Life™ acquires musical instruments and supplies for young musicians from financially challenged families in the Highline Public Schools. Highline Music4Life is a community activity that is inspired by the Rotary Clubs of Des Moines, Burien-White Center and SeaTac. It is not necessary to be a Rotarian to participate. For more information or to donate an instrument to Highline Music4Life, contact [email protected], call (206) 409-3275 or go to their Website at www.HighlineMusic4Life.org. Instrument donation forms are available online, as well as at the instrument drop-off sites.