Collaborating with Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota Music Education Association, The College of St. Scholastica sponsored a fundraiser this spring called Play it Forward, a benefit that was successful in collecting musical instruments for area K-12 students who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
Play it Forward, a state-wide event endorsed at all extended CSS campuses, was part of the college’s continuing and expanding relationship with MPR, along with efforts to serve the local community.
“This effort fit well with St. Scholastica’s commitment to music education and community outreach,” St. Scholastica Marketing Director Mary Zimmerman said. “We are a community-minded organization, so Play it Forward has been a great way we can help area schools while strengthening our relationship with local bands and directors.”
CSS has been an educational partner and sponsor with MPR for 34 years, and Classical MPR host Steve Staruch said MPR is thrilled to cultivate a relationship with CSS that promotes the mission of MPR, which he said is “to delight and educate.”
“CSS and MPR have similar missions,” Staruch said, “MPR is as much of a part of what CSS is about, as CSS is a part of what MPR is about.”
In addition to officially sponsoring the event, CSS was one of over 300 instrument drop-off stations in Minnesota, and the college celebrated the successful fundraiser through a live broadcast with Classical MPR host Steve Staruch on April 30, 2010. The event included live music from local groups as well as discussion with area teachers and musicians.
Professor LeAnne House, Chair of the Music Department, along with her husband Shelley Gruskin, music faculty emeritus, performed together at the event, and Gruskin said he was honored to be part of a fundraiser that will have such a profound impact on children.
“To put instruments in the hands of students who would not be able to have them is a great service,” Gruskin said, testifying to the power of music in young people’s lives. “I can tell you from personal witness that many rebellious adolescents have made a 100 degree turnaround when they’re given the opportunity to learn to play and appreciate music.”
Executive Director of MMEA Mary Schaefle also spoke at the live broadcast, describing the goal of MMEA, which is to ensure that every student in Minnesota has the access to high-quality music education that they deserve.
“Kids that are engaged in school stay in school, because music is at the center of a cohesive school community,” Schaefle said. “Some of us will remember music as something fun that we did in middle school or high school, but some of us will go on to a lifetime of music making and every child should have that chance.”
Because MMEA works with music teachers in the state every day, Schaefle said MMEA’s role in Play it Forward was facilitating the relationship between MPR and area schools, including specific instrument needs for certain schools.
“We have a good sense of what instruments schools need, so we passed that information along to MPR,” Schaefle said. “It’s my opinion that people want to give, and this fundraiser has been a way to open the door, and give people a way to give.”
And give people did. Classical MPR Program Director Erik Nycklemoe said he was surprised about how many instruments were donated to CSS at the live broadcast alone.
“This has been amazing,” Nycklemoe said. “The success of this fundraiser says a lot about the community of Duluth. They’re so giving–it is just incredible.”
Both Staruch and Nycklemoe said that there would have been much less success in collecting instrument donations and educating young people about music if CSS had not been an integral part of Play it Forward.
“CSS was one of our key efforts in making this possible,” Nycklemoe said. “We’re appreciative of all the college has done for us, and we want the partnership to continue and deepen as we move forward.”