Each year my folks get us something “big” for Christmas. The range of items go from a new hard drive (back when they weren’t inexpensive) to a home-made dinner for up to 8 guests. This year they got us a gift certificate to a seafood market where we can get sushi-grade seafood, live lobster or some other specialty. They’ve done it each year since we got married. The thing is… one of my brothers just got married on December 31st. For many years prior to that his gift was something that a bachelor would need. Usually something akin to stocking his freezer or pantry with food.
But there was one year that really stood out. My mom bought him two season passes to the Quad City Symphony. My brother has always been a bit of an adventurist and free spirit. Bar hopping, skydiving, bungee jumping, car racing. Why did she buy those tickets? He asked for them, that’s why. I thought it was a pretty cool gift idea.
Here I am some 15 years later and admiring that gift even more. When the girls started the “Beginning orchestra” program in 4th grade, the landscape of music changed for us. My heart aches as we continue to hear about the arts being de-funded in schools. As I explained the other day, I’m glad our school district supports the arts. The dedication is mutual as the Quad City Symphony supports education through a variety of programs. They offer Symphony Day which introduces elementary school kids to classical music. Instruments for Kids provides musical instruments for kids who are interested in participating in their school’s band or orchestra but are unable to finance the purchase or rental of an instrument. They also offer a glimpse behind-the-scenes during rehearsal as part of their Students@Symphony program. Those are in addition to their very robust youth symphony program that involves ensembles of varying expertise.
When the kids decided to audition for the youth ensembles with the Quad City Symphony, I was cautiously optimistic. There are a lot of talented kids in this area and I was told that spots are very limited. I couldn’t beam prouder when they both were accepted into the respective programs they applied for. Requiring a great deal of dedication, the program teaches more than just music. It enriches life-skills, builds relationships, teaches respect and culture. How many tweens do you see at a symphony performance? Not many. How many aspire to be part of a symphony when they grow up? Not a lot although I’m sure there are more in communities that support the arts than those that don’t.
Regardless of where you live, there are financial and “time and talent” opportunities to support the musical arts. Whether it be assisting the local symphony, supporting the school booster programs or donating an instrument that you no longer use, there are ways for you to encourage musical learning within your community.