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Mt. Pleasant area teachers bring tools of music to kids

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 1:58 a.m.

Tom Murphy feels every child should have an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument regardless of economic status.

When the elementary school music teacher realized there were children in the Mt. Pleasant Area School District who could not afford to buy or rent instruments, he decided to do something about it.

“My intent was to create a situation where regardless of the situation any and all students with interest could be a part of our instrumental program,” Murphy said. “My ultimate goal for this program is to give all students the opportunity to become a part of our instrumental program here at Mt. Pleasant.”

Murphy started the program last month and has already collected about seven instruments so far — a flute, a clarinet, a trumpet, a trombone and various percussion instruments.

“We are very grateful that people have donated instruments already to help make the music at Mt. Pleasant. We continue to look for more of these same instruments as well as saxophones and baritones,” he said. “I appreciate all of the support we have received thus far in helping our young people make music.”

Deborah Krinock, a third-grade teacher at Ramsay Elementary, made a plea to her friends on Facebook to donate to the program, So far, she has collected two trumpets.

“I love our kids at Ramsay. We have about 56 percent of our student population at this school that is considered socially-economically disadvantaged, many are just downright poor,” Krinock said. “If they have a passion for music and want to play an instrument, I want them to have that opportunity. So I figured I would reach out to see if anyone had an old/new instrument in storage or not getting used. We have great kids here at Ramsay and I know it will mean the world to the few that get one of these instruments.”

After instruments have been donated Murphy will distribute those instruments to the students who are in need.

While the program is mainly geared towards children in grades 4-6, the program has the potential to affect the high school program in a big way, said Andrea Pritts, president of the Mt. Pleasant Area High School Band Boosters.

“If kids don't start on a band instrument in elementary school, it is very unlikely they will start in high school,” Pritts said. “So if more kids are playing at a younger age, it helps the marching band build a bigger base of kids.”

Pritts noted that students start dropping out of band in junior and senior high for many reasons, including involvement with sports, jobs and pursuit of other electives.

“So it is very important to build that large base at the bottom and keep it strong. Then by the time they get to high school, we still have a good number of kids,” she said. “If they can't afford that instrument at the elementary age, they'll never know if they love playing music.”

Those interested in donating instruments can drop them off at any of the schools in Mt. Pleasant School District or by contacting Murphy at 724-547-4100, ext. 3003, or to make other arrangements.

The district is also accepting monetary donations for the new program.

Checks may be made out to Mt. Pleasant Area School District and sent to the district administration office.

“We have about 35 students in need of instruments. Any help would be appreciated,” Murphy said.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.