By: Jeffrey D. Stauffer – Executive Director
In June 2017, the Elville Center for the Creative Arts celebrated its three-year anniversary. Founded in 2014 by Stephen Elville, the mission of The Elville Center is to improve the quality of life of children of all ages 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 local and regional businesses, non-profit organizations, and school music programs 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 Center and refurbishes donated musical instruments, purchases new instruments for programs, provide rental instruments and music lessons for students, funds field trips, and helps organizations develop music programs.
Since our spring update, one of the Elville Center’s most exciting new projects is the establishment of a music program for children with autism in partnership with the Howard County Autism Society (HCAS). With the leadership of Executive Director Melissa Rosenberg, along with volunteer parents of children with autism, HCAS’s mission is raising awareness and educating the general public about the complexities of autism. HCAS offers many social activities for children and their families, and this winter the Elville Center is excited to collaborate with Howard Community College and The Music Institute to develop group classes and individual lessons that will bring music to children with autism. Research shows that music and music therapy can be very therapeutic to children with special needs. Along these lines, this program will enhance these young people’s lives by facilitating the joy of music to and for them. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and our goal is to have this dynamic initiative in place and providing music education and services to children by February 2018.
As our past updates have always mentioned, the need for support in Baltimore City’s school music programs is a dire one. The Elville Center has continued to work with its partner schools in the City to help them with their music-related needs, and along the way has continued to discover more needs, such as those at those at Coppin Academy High School. This public charter high school on the campus of Coppin State University has a music program under the new direction of Jesse Williamson, a Master Teacher of music education. After receiving a request for assistance from Mr. Williamson, the Elville Center responded by facilitating repairs for numerous instruments and providing much-needed trombone and flute cases, along with a strap for the school’s bass clarinet. On a monthly basis, the Elville Center continues to refurbish many instruments that need care so that they may be put into working condition, and is actively bringing many donated refurbished instruments to the School, including an alto saxophone, a bass saxophone, a flute, a trumpet, a Yamaha keyboard, and a baritone euphonium (thus far). The Elville Center also helped Mr. Williamson transport an important piano from his previous school to Coppin Academy, and arranged to have it repaired and tuned for the new school year.
“This year, I transferred to Coppin Academy High School #432, and The Elville Center has been helping me to get many of my instruments repaired and refurbished and ready for my new high school band students. My Band II students have already begun playing their instruments and I am grateful beyond words to the Elville Center for all of their support,” said Mr. Williamson. “Over the years I have spent thousands of dollars of my own money in support of my program, but it is heartening to know that there is an organization that seeks to help teachers like me make a difference in the lives of children who otherwise might not have the opportunity to play an instrument. Coppin Academy is a small public charter school with an urban population of students, most of whom cannot afford to buy an instrument. It is my goal to instill in them a love of music and foster discipline and self-confidence to go on to greater things in life.”
Another Baltimore City school the Elville Center has just begun to provide assistance to is the K-8 Empowerment Academy. The new music teacher at this school, Marcus Neal, is a teacher the Elville Center has partnered with before at another inner-city school, Franklin Square Middle. The Empowerment Academy encourages arts enrichment for all of its students, which is a unique philosophy for a Baltimore City school. The Elville Center is working to bring recorders, xylophones, and boomwhackers (yes, boomwhackers!) to the music program’s younger students, and as Mr. Neal is working to develop a band for grades 5-8, the Elville Center is working to provide more standard brass and woodwind instruments to the older students.
In what is undoubtedly The Elville Center’s most ambitious venture thus far, the Center is now a major sponsor of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, a professional orchestra whose home is located near the Annapolis State House in hee historic Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. The Center will be paying for the bus transportation and tickets for hundreds of children to attend the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Concerts for Schoolchildren” series. This partnership with the ASO personifys our mission to give children the opportunity to experience extraordinary cultural events related to music they never would have experienced without such outside support. The Elville Center is honored to partner with an organization such as the ASO, one that aligns with our mission and vision so closely, and we are very excited about the impact this sponsorship will make on so many children in the Anne Arundel County community.
“Schools in lower-income communities often do not have the resources to afford tickets or transportation to enjoy cultural events outside school,” said Patrick Nugent, Executive Director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. “The Elville Center has made it possible for these schools to attend the Annapolis Symphony’s Concerts for Schoolchildren free of charge, for the first time in our history. Early exposure to classical music can captivate a child’s imagination and bring benefits throughout their education and their life. The Symphony is immensely grateful to the Elville Center for its commitment to ensuring children from all backgrounds can enjoy the pleasures and benefits of classical music.”
The projects The Elville Center for the Creative Arts is spearheading right now are all very unique in scope. We are supporting music programs and organizations all over the state – founding new music programs and enriching established ones, and facilitating music-related opportunities to thousands of students! Participants in these programs come from a wide variety of backgrounds – many from disadvantaged situations that need support just to participate in music, and some with disabilities where music therapy can offer so much to enrich their lives.
Regardless of background, the one thing these students all share is a strong and enduring desire to participate in music.
The Elville Center for the Creative Artsneeds your support to further its important work, so that these important projects continue to be successful now and in the years to come. The need is great, and growing. We need your monetary support to help refurbish instruments, obtain supplies and new instruments, and facilitate cultural learning experiences. We need those instruments you don’t use anymore that are taking up space. We also need volunteers, especially for our upcoming April 2018 Fundraising Event.
If you would like to donate or learn more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, please visit www.elvillecenter.org, or contact Jeffrey Stauffer, Executive Director, at 443-393-7696, or firstname.lastname@example.org. And, don’t forget to mark your calendars for Saturday, April 28th, when the Elville Center for the Creative Arts hosts its first annual fundraiser! Details will be forthcoming.