The fourth annual Instrument Drive 4 Youth — a donation drive held to collect musical instruments for Santa Barbara youth — will take place until the end of this month.
Hosted by the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, the Santa Barbara Bowl Education Outreach Committee and UCSB’s M.U.S.I.C. Club, the drive is a collaborative project occurring in conjunction with the 2012 New Noise Festival as well as Pianos on State, the event responsible for the slew of colorful pianos lining State Street.
Santa Barbara Bowl Program Director Eric Shiflett said the charity drive first developed in 2009 when the Santa Barbara Bowl decided to put together a citywide event to continue the fundraising efforts of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.
“Our committee chair Sandy Stahl [said that] it was something she had wanted to initiate for a long time as part of our arts outreach program. It was just a big passion she had — to recycle and reuse instruments,” Shiflett said. “Our education outreach is part of our core mission statement to help give back to arts education.”
Recipients of Instrument Drive 4 Youth donations include Our Lady of Guadalupe, the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, Notes for Notes, Santa Barbara Strings, JAMS, Los Prietos Boys Camp, Rockshop Academy, the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony and multiple schools in the Santa Barbara School District. In addition to the numerous clarinets, flutes, violins, pianos and saxophones received, many less conventional instruments — like an African djembe and a Native American flute — have also been donated.
Furthermore, according to Margie Yahyavi, executive director of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, there have been some particularly expensive and elaborate instruments donated to the program.
“We’ve received some really gorgeous pianos, including a Steinway grand piano valued at $50,000,” Yahyavi said. “We gave [the piano] to the Performing Arts Center at Dos Pueblos High School.”
Pianos on State, which allows anyone to sit down and play on multicolored pianos along State Street, first used donated pianos to set up shop downtown but will now give the instruments to other charitable sources.
“We stored them and brought them out and had artists paint them on State,” Yahyavi said. “Now, we’ll place them in community organizations and schools.”
According to Yahyavi, instruments are also given to individual students who would not otherwise have access to higher quality instruments.
“Typically when we get donations to buy instruments, we have to make that money stretch as far as we can, so we have to buy student models,” Yahyavi said. “[This] is appropriate but then for kids who really have a passion for their instrument … when we get those donations, we can give those instruments to a kid who’s really at that point in their ability.”
UCSB’s M.U.S.I.C. club — which tutors and gives music lessons to Isla Vista Elementary and El Camino Elementary students — is participating in the drive for the first time, according to Selena Ross, M.U.S.I.C co-president and second-year sociology major.
“This year was a big year for the M.U.S.I.C. Club because it was the first year we got enough funding to actually buy instruments for kids to practice on,” Ross said. “We got a couple of grants and at the end of this quarter we’re planning on sending the dedicated students home with an instrument.”
According to Ross, the Instrument Drive 4 Youth has seen a good turnout so far, though there is still a need for more community participation.
“We really just hope to get as many instruments as possible, of any kind; it doesn’t matter what type,” Ross said. “We’re really encouraging students to go home for Thanksgiving and bring back that guitar they never use, because we can always find someone to give it to.”