The Elville Center Spring 2021 Update – Helping Music Education Be a Part of Every Child’s World of Possibility

By:  Jeffrey D. Stauffer – Executive Director – Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc.

“Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.”  – Yo-Yo Ma

As the Elville Center for the Creative Arts approaches 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 local businesses 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 Elville Center refurbishes donated musical instruments, purchases new instruments for programs, provides rental instruments, offers support to develop music programs, partners with professional symphonies and other organizations to fund music education initiatives, and much more.

Due to COVID, 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 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 necessities to function properly to give student musicians the experiences they deserve in music education. Teachers do not have their own money to pour into their programs to pay for needed equipment, supplies, and instruments.  With COVID having affected schools since early 2020, music programs have been deemphasized even more with music teachers having to find creative ways to offer music remotely and in person.  As schools prepare for full-time in person learning in the fall, the Elville Center is being counted on to support our school music partners so they are fully prepared for a successful fall semester.

Since our last update, the Elville Center has been busy strengthening current relationships and building new ones as we work to assist as many music programs and student musicians as possible.  Some of our stories are below.  And to reiterate – these stories would not be possible without donations from people like you who support organizations like the Elville Center!

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Sponsorship and Educational Initiative

For a fifth consecutive season, the Elville Center is continuing its support as a major sponsor of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, a professional orchestra in Annapolis based in the historic Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Last year, the Center’s sponsorship paid for the bus transportation and tickets for 625 children, all from Title 1 schools, to attend the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Concerts for Schoolchildren. The Symphony performs annual music education concerts for more than 2,600 elementary schoolchildren from Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Taking place during the school day, these educational performances expose students to symphonic music in a theater setting, regardless of their socio-economic status. The Symphony strives to introduce elementary schoolchildren to live music performed by a professional orchestra; to teach students about the four instrument families; to engage young listeners with multi-media elements, such as theater, dance, magic or puppetry; and to reinforce that music is fun and accessible.

Continuing our funding for this ASO’s music education initiative is our largest and arguably most important venture of the year, as it positively affects so many underprivileged students and directly fulfills our mission to give children the opportunity to experience cultural events related to music they never would have experienced otherwise.

The Annapolis Symphony Academy

As an offshoot to our relationship with the ASO, the Elville Center was recently introduced to the Annapolis Symphony Academy.  Led by Founder and Director Netanel Draiblate, the Academy’s mission is to provide a high-level music education to students of all cultural and economic backgrounds, while addressing the under-representation of minority musicians in the classical music field.

According to the Academy’s “Model for Diversity” on its website, “Half of the Annapolis Symphony Academy student body is comprised of underrepresented minorities (in today’s U.S. orchestras) in a model that emphasizes interaction and mutual respect. Regardless of a student’s cultural background, and through the incredible generosity of our donors, the Academy awards up to fifty percent of its annual tuition revenue in need-based scholarships. We believe this model provides a truly diverse student body, as it merges two overlapping, yet nonidentical, concepts of equality onto one program. Students are selected for the program strictly based on merit as well as their drive to learn and become better musicians.”

Beginning in June, the Elville Center will be providing high-level donated refurbished musical instruments of all kinds to support the Academy’s mission and student musicians as they pursue their musical dreams in through this groundbreaking educational opportunity.

Wiley H. Bates Middle School

The Elville Center continues to partner with its good friends at Bates Middle School, led by Director of Bands Dr. Maximus Vanderbeek and Orchestral Program Director Ms. Kirsten Taylor.  This longstanding partnership is important as the instruments and equipment we provide Dr. Vanderbeek are divided among Bates Middle’s feeder elementary schools, expanding our reach to hundreds of additional student musicians in Anne Arundel County.  Along with our continuing monthly financial support of its guest artist/student teacher program, over the past several months the Elville Center has provided Bates with over 20 instruments for the school’s large band program and Performing Visual Arts Program, and has begun to offer instruments to its orchestral program as well.  A beautiful cello, a long-sought euphonium and tuba, violins, trumpets, flutes, and a rare cornet with a remarkable sound are now in the hands of Bates’ student musicians as music resonates through its halls in preparation for its next performance.

The Elville Center also orchestrated the delivery of a fine Roland KR-7 digital piano to Bates in May, which was donated to the charity by a former music instructor at Loyola University.  While pianos are not typically something we delve into at the charity, when there is a need from one of our partners and an opportunity presents itself, the Elville Center will make it happen!

REACH! Partnership

In one of our most important endeavors to date, this April the Elville Center reconnected with the REACH! Partnership, a Baltimore City charter school whose band program is in its relative infancy; however, this does not mean the dreams and desire to enhance its students’ lives with music education is not there – because it is with wholehearted enthusiasm!  Hard work has been poured into the school’s band and choral programs over the past three years as they continue to grow in scope and sound each year.  The Elville Center recognizes this and wants to be part of the movement that is REACH! Partnership Music!  With the assistance of the school’s remarkable Community Engagement Coordinator, Ms. Rhonda McKinney, the Elville Center delivered a large donation of instruments and supplies to the school, which included a five-piece Tama swingstar and ride drum set with high hat and crash symbols; a Peavy amp; three Fender guitars with attachments for the amp; two trumpets; two clarinets and a flute.  In May, the Elville Center received information regarding how it can support the school’s choral program as well, so our donation to the school as the fall semester begins will include support for not only the band but that program as well. 

Mr. Dick Clark, band director at the school, remarked, “Music is the soundtrack of Life!  “When music programs were removed from schools as part of the curriculum or even as an extracurricular activity, we lost that soundtrack from our students. We missed that sound of creativity of art through various instruments and even in voice.  It has always been the dream and desire of my principal, Dr. James Gresham, to have a music program at our school where we can bring that sound back to life!  Thanks to Mr. Stephen Elville, Mr. Jeff Stauffer and to the support of the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, this dream has now become a reality! We have a brand new 21st-century building with a music room, where we can now not only teach our students how to play various instruments but to learn how to appreciate music as an art. We have a choir that made their debut at our Christmas program in 2019! They have been going strong ever since! We appreciate the generous donations and are excited about hearing that soundtrack of life throughout our building.”

Ms. McKinney continued with her thoughts about the importance of partnerships such as that of the Elville Center to REACH! Partnership’s growth and success, saying, “It is with sincere appreciation and a grateful heart that we say thank you for supporting the mission of the REACH Partnership School. We are excited about your contribution to support our students and staff.  Your contribution of the musical instruments and other musical supplieshas allowed us to better serve our school community.  Having supportive partnerships is essential to the success of our Community School model.  Our partnership remains a promising vehicle in our collective efforts to serve the needs of our students and their families.”

The Columbia Orchestra

The Elville Center is proud to support the Columbia Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert for a fifth consecutive year.  This year’s Concert took place on May 22nd at the Chrysalis amphitheater in downtown Columbia and was a hit with the kids and their families as it has been for years.  A wonderful way to introduce children of all ages to music and the Orchestra, an ensemble, dancers from Dance Connections, and narrator Greg Jukes performed Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf!  In addition, music from MoanaWizard of Oz, and more was enjoyed by all.

Germantown, West Annapolis, and Annapolis Elementary Schools

Not only is Dr. Vanderbeek at Bates Middle a valued partner of the Elville Center, he is a great referral partner as well, having suggested we reach out to Mr. Andrew Ritenour, Band Director at the three above-mentioned schools.  In speaking with Mr. Ritenour, he shared with me some information about his music education programs, including the challenges COVID has presented over the past year.  His schools serve high-poverty neighborhoods, and this year he had half the number of band students he would have in a typical year.  Instruments are always needed at his schools, as students’ families typically don’t have the resources available to rent them. 

As we receive our next batch of donated refurbished instruments from our valued partner, Music & Arts Center of Severna Park, as he’s asked, we’ve assured Mr. Ritenour to expect a delivery of trumpets, saxophones for his bands, as well as violins for the orchestral programs at his schools.

“My students and I are grateful for the instruments you send our way!” noted Mr. Ritenour.  “Thank you so much for all you’re doing to put instruments in the hands of students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play – sometimes their participation in these groups is the primary reason they want to come to school!  Music education is that important to us here!”

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 school music education programs along with other 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. To donate or learn more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, please visit www.elvillecenter.org, contact Jeff Stauffer at jeff@elvillecenter.org, or call 443-676-9691.  We value and appreciate your support!

“Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.” Plato