SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore College will host Be Instrumental — a musical instrument drive to benefit elementary school students in the North Country, including Ticonderoga Elementary School band program students. The drive will accept gently used brass, woodwind and percussion band instruments. The drive began Wednesday, Jan. 22 and concludes Saturday, Feb. 8.
In tandem, Skidmore students hosted “Band-Aid” — a benefit concert on Jan. 25 at Lively Lucy’s in Falstaff’s Pavilion on the Skidmore College Campus. The event price of admission was an instrument or a monetary donation of any amount. All proceeds went toward the Be Instrumental drive.
When Evan Mack’s 10-year-old son came home from band practice and told him that some of his classmates were playing plastic instruments or instruments held together by tape, the senior teaching professor of music at Skidmore College was stunned. He also learned that many students could not afford to rent musical instruments.
Mack, an accomplished composer and pianist, teamed up with Michelle Hubbs, director of the Office of Community Service, as well as Skidmore students Madison Pappas ’22 and Neil Mellstrom ’20 to create Be Instrumental — an instrument drive aimed at giving the gift of music to children in Ticonderoga Schools.
“Learning to play on a quality, working instrument is so important. When you give children a functional instrument, what you’re really giving them is the opportunity to explore what they’re capable of and to fall in love with music,” says Mack.
Skidmore students have been asked to bring gently used instruments that they no longer use back to campus when they return from winter break for the drive. “So many of our students have played an instrument at one point, in high school or even college, but no longer use that instrument,” says Mack. “These same instruments can now inspire a new generation of students.”
Several local businesses and organizations in the Saratoga region will help spread the word and encourage participation. Esperanto, Smashburger and Kru Coffee are offering incentives to those who support the drive. Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) will provide a special classical music package to whoever donates the most instruments. Cole’s Woodwind Shop and Saratoga Guitar & Music Center have volunteered to clean and prepare donated instruments before they are distributed to schools.
Ticonderoga Elementary school will be the primary beneficiary, but all surplus instruments will be distributed to other area schools.