By Leslie H. Dixon
OXFORD — Do you have an old instrument laying musically unfulfilled in a closet or attic?
The Oxford Elementary School is collecting musical instruments to start a loaner program for youngsters whose families may not be able to afford to buy or rent a budding Yo-Yo Ma or Louis Armstrong an instrument.
Students in grades 4 through 6 are currently provided music lessons at the elementary school but because of the high cost of instruments, not many get involved, said Carol Lundberg, a guidance teacher at the Oxford Elementary School.
“When I talked with students about a “Ted Talk” [a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks] I’d seen about how the brain fires up while the person is playing an instrument, the sad response was that most of them could not afford the cost of a rental,” she said.
Lundberg said the realization that very few students were involved in the instrument program at school because of the high costs, sparked her long-time dream to create an instrument loaner program at the school.
So she decided to do something about it.
In June, Lundberg said she heard, on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, an announcement about the return of the Music That Moves ME series to Maine Public Radio and, this year, to Maine Public Classical. As part of its music initiative, the station was also launching an instrument drive for needy student musicians across Maine.
“I sent a quick note about my dream of a loaner program and asked if I might be able to receive some of the instruments,” Lundberg said. “I arrived in July (to the station headquarters) to a large room full of instruments. Cory Morrissey, from MPBN, and I filled three shopping carts with instruments that looked good enough.”
Lundberg said Brian Nadeau Music Services and Main Street Music Studio in Brewer inspected the instruments and found they were in good shape but each needed some repair. Cost estimates for those repairs range between $75 and $400 depending on the need and the instrument, she said.
“Re-padding can be very expensive, especially on a saxophone,” she said as an example.
Lundberg said Glen Sargent from Second Wind Music in Lincolnville is making the repairs to the instruments and has not only provided a discount but donated a lot of his work. The instruments are expected back in town next week.
“He is very excited about getting more student hands on instruments,” she said. “Our financial debt to Glen is currently $2,300. For a car load of 30 instruments, it is actually quite a bargain.”
To fulfill the obligation, Lundberg said she will be fundraising throughout the school year, including having school dances.
Eventually she would like to expand the musical instrument loaner program district-wide.
The instruments will be loaned for the school year. Program details are being worked out.
Lundberg is looking for donations of musical instruments (no pianos or drum sets, please) or a financial donation to pay for repairs.
Instruments may be dropped off at the following locations:
Oxford Elementary School, 79 Pleasant St., Oxford
Oxford Police and Fire Department, Route 26, Oxford
TD Bank, 1586 Main St., Oxford
MSAD 17, Central Office, 232 Main Street, Paris
Rainbow Federal Credit Union, 172 Pine St., Paris
Oxford Federal Credit Union, 54 Fair St., Norway
Financial contributions for instrument parts and repairs may be sent to:
Oxford Elementary School, 70 Pleasant St., Oxford, ME 04270. Please include a memo that the contribution is for the instrument program