Gifford band program in need of clarinets, other instruments
By Jessica Tuggle
GIFFORD -- An afterschool program in Gifford is in need of clarinets and other instruments for its musical program.
At 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Gifford Youth Activity Center, students march into the facility with quarter notes, trills and rhythm on the brain and instruments in their arms.
In order to allow new students into the program, more instruments are needed, said program directors.
At the top of the list are clarinets, said Freddie Woolfork.
"Clarinets tend to be an instrument that is kept by the individual, after their time in class is over. Last time we asked for clarinets, we received 13 and nine girls kept the instruments," Mr. Woolfork said.
Girls tend to gravitate to the woodwinds, while boys lean to the brass instruments.
The general age for the students in the after school program is 11 to 14. After that age, if they are still interested, they usually move on to high school bands, which is one of the reasons the after school program is offered, he said.
"Our hope, our goal, our mission is to elevate the number of minority participants in high school bands," Mr. Woolfork said.
Many times, minority students do not have the resources to purchase their own instrument, much less afford private lessons, so when they get to the older middle school, then high school level, even if they practice as much as they can, they tend to be behind the curve compared to other students.
"This can be very discouraging for students," Mr. Woolfork said.
The donated instruments would remain the property of the Gifford Youth Activity Center during the class. When a child is enrolled in the program, parents or guardians of the child, or children, sign a contract that the instruments will be maintained in working order as long as the length of the loan.
"Musical instruction has been proven to help students perform better on many standardized tests, and helps students in other ways too," Mr. Woolfork said.
Nick Melnick has been a volunteer music instructor at the youth center for more than two years and has seen the difference music can make in a child's life.
"The discipline it takes to learn to proficiently play a musical instrument is a positive benefit to students in the program," he said. "You don't learn this music by osmosis, you learn by practicing the skills."
Deciding to sit down and practice for 20 minutes, 30 minutes or one hour a day is how students will see improvement. And sticking with it is sometimes difficult for children, he said.
"Learning how to play in a group setting, such as a band, is also a skill the students in the program are taught, and that is teamwork," Mr. Melnick said.
During classes, he focuses on the small successes of each student no matter if the student has met their practice goals or not.
"Because each success is important in the big picture," he said.
Donations of brass, percussion and other woodwind instruments are also welcomed.
For more information about volunteering or donating instruments, contact Mr. Woolfork at (772) 794-1005. For more information about programs at the Gifford Youth Activity Center, visit www.gyac.net.