Donated Instruments Enhance Music Education

Posted: December 7, 2009 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: December 24, 2009 at 10:19 am


By Catherine Ferraro

instrumentsMusical instruments can be expensive and beyond reach for many young musicians. During this season of giving, one organization is revamping its efforts to provide refurbished musical instruments to students who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

Since its inception in 2008, George Mason University’s Instruments in the Attic program has collected and distributed more than 80 instruments, including trumpets, flutes and guitars, to Mason’s music education students who need them to complete their degrees.

Instruments in the Attic is a program of the Potomac Arts Academy, a community outreach branch of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The program was created when Mason alumnus J.P. Phaup, managing director of investments at Phaup Brown Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo and a member of the Arts at Mason Board, was given a slightly used trumpet by a neighbor who asked him to see if Mason’s School of Music could put it to good use.

Along with providing instruments to college students, the program plans to give much-needed instruments to public schools in Fairfax and Prince William counties and has led a series of musical explorations programs that are designed to introduce elementary and middle school students to instrumental music.

During the annual Mason Holiday Concert on Sunday, Dec. 13, representatives from Instruments in the Attic will announce a yearlong fund-raising campaign for the program and will demonstrate how donated instruments have already impacted the lives of more than 500 young people. Concert attendees who donate an instrument (new, used or in need of repair) during the performance will receive complimentary tickets to selected upcoming events at Mason’s School of Music.

“Although Mason is very well known nationally, there are still many organizations close to home that are unfamiliar with the wide variety of programs offered at the university,” says John Kilkenny, assistant director for the Potomac Arts Academy and faculty member in the School of Music.

“Being able to address these groups with a program like Instruments in the Attic will allow us to not only accumulate needed instruments and financial support, but also to open the door for other relationships with the university.”

Building on the success of the program throughout the past year, Kilkenny and Phaup wanted to expand Mason’s presence in the community. The two have been working diligently for several months to identify key arts, business and community organizations in Northern Virginia, such as chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs and associations, that will understand the value of the program.

Some of the organizations Kilkenny has already addressed include the Arlington Business and Civic Circle and the Rotary Club of Warrenton. He will speak at the Annandale Chamber of Commerce in January 2010.

Instruments in the Attic has already lined up several arts organizations in the area to help support and spread the word about the program to the business community. These organizations, which include the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Fairfax Wind Symphony, the City of Fairfax Band and the Washington Balalaika Society, are placing advertisements in their programs, giving presentations about the program before their concerts, setting up information tables at their performances and sending e-mails to their subscriber lists.

“In January 2010, we will begin visiting those businesses and organizations we have identified as potential supporters of CVPA and the university in general,” says Phaup.

“Because we believe that there is far greater use for the instruments we collect beyond Mason, it is important that we communicate to these organizations the investment that they will be making by choosing to donate an instrument to be used by children and young adults.”

Instruments in the Attic is also in need of financial donations that will be used for the repair and maintenance of the instruments.

To donate an instrument or make a monetary donation, contact Candy Neukam at or 703-993-9889, or visit the web site.

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