Spotted in Manila, 2014

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thank you D'Addario Music Foundation!


While in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to work with some amazing young musicians at the Philippine High School for the Arts. Although filled with talent and drive, it was clear their improvement as musicians would be an uphill battle from then on since they lacked accessible tuners and metronomes. These tools are necessary for every young musician and Brian and I saw that the students were not only in need of these tools, but very deserving. Since purchasing a tuner and metronome for themselves would present a financial hardship on the students, Brian and I took our chances and reached out to a dozen different manufacturers and sellers requesting donations. We sent each company this letter:

September 4, 2012
Hello! We are young professional musicians who perform and teach in the New York City area. We recently returned from a charitable music outreach project in the Philippines that we helped organize. During our month-long residency there, we had the good fortune of working with a group of twenty-five extremely talented, motivated, and determined music students at the Philippine High School for the Arts. Many of these students could easily be accepted into some of the top music schools in the United States, though most would not have the financial means to leave the Philippines.
There was one other factor that might prevent their development to this level. On our first day working with the students in a master class setting, we asked for a show of hands of who owned a metronome and/or tuner. One student raised his hand, and class explained that it wasn’t necessary that they each owned one, because he was willing to share his one metronome with the rest of the students at the school. Shocked at this, we explained that it was a necessity that everyone owned their own metronome and tuner in order to improve. We said that they would only cost around 800 Philippine pesos ($20), which we considered perfectly affordable. The students were heartbroken and embarrassed to admit that this would present a financial hardship for most of them, given their economic status. Needless to say, we struggled during our residency to help the students improve their intonation, rhythm, and inner-pulse. Many of the students had hit a plateau that we were positive they could overcome if they simply had regular access to these tools.
We write this letter to you in the hopes that you will consider making a donation of a few tuners and metronomes (or tuner/metronome combination units) to these promising young musicians. This donation could be in the form of all 25 units, 5 units, or a discounted rate, whichever your company is able to do. Even one metronome or tuner would make a dramatic improvement at this school. Whatever the donation, we will credit you on the blog for our organization: http://projectphilippines2012ckmbk.blogspot.com as well as the website for the school: http://www.phsa.edu.ph/home.htm.
Though we were only able to spend a couple of weeks with these students, they made a lasting impression on our lives. We thank you in advance for helping us create a lasting impression on their lives as well. We look forward to hearing from you.
Salamat and Mabuhay,
Midori Samson, Bassoon, The Juilliard School; Brian Gnojek, Clarinet, Freelance Musician

Like we expected, a few responses we received were unsuccessful: “We’re sorry, but our company does not have this type of donation program” and “We are unable to do so at this time”. However, we were inspired (and surprised) to receive enthusiastic responses from Suzanne D'Addario Brouder of the D’Addario Music Foundation. After correspondence with this generous organization, we are so excited to send 30 new metronome/tuners and sheet music to our students at PHSA.
Brian and I would personally like to thank Suzanne and her company for their kindness, cooperation, and generosity.  I am in disbelief of the amount of compassion these companies have shown in this process. They have taught me to show the same compassion in my music and teaching and I am inspired to say the least. Thank you D’Addario Music Foundation!

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