January, 2007

Living up to our motto of "creating musicians, one student at a time." the teachers and coordinators involved in MusicLink realize the importance of decent instruments for students as they grow in the program. We are pleased to work with business partners and community donors to bring instruments to students through our Instrument Request Program. We have successfully matched $15,000 worth of donated instruments with students over the past year. We want to share a few wonderful stories with you.

North Dakota: A Cello for Alicia

(excerpts from an article by
Carla Kelly, Times Record, Valley City)

It's a well-known fact of life that young musicians grow, but their instruments don't. For clarinet players, flutists, or oboists this isn't an issue: one size fits all. Not so for a cello player. Alicia Rohde is now in 9th grade and has been using a three-quarter sized instrument since she started playing cello in the 4th grade. She's also 5' 6" tall now, which makes a difference. Alicia's old cello is four inches smaller than a full-sized instrument. Although it has a nice tone, playing it was becoming awkward, now that Alicia is taller.

Alicia is a MusicLink scholarship student at the VCSU Community, studying cello from Margaret Dahlberg. Beth Klingenstein, school director and North Dakota MusicLink coordinator, realized the dilemma and applied for a full sized instrument for Alicia through the instrument request program. The new full sized cello, donated by William Weaver of the Violin House of Weaver located in Bethesda MD, arrived at 6:30 am several months later as a surprise for Alicia. As Alicia opened the case, it was an "Ohh ahh" moment, followed by what appeared to be instant bonding between musician and cello. Cellos are to be listened to, but they are also to be touched. Both Alicia and Dahlberg ran their hands over the curving lines. Both musicians played it next. Dahlberg gave it her seal of approval. " This is nice," she said. "It has a beautiful tone." When asked to use one word to describe her new gift, Alicia didn't even hesitate. " Fantastic!"

California: Sunny's Violin

by Diane Worthy

I have been teaching Sunny Tran for three years and recently nominated him as the first MusicLink student from my studio. He is a hard-working student and has much musical potential. However, his poor quality instrument was holding him back. At a recital last year, he approached me after he performed a Seitz Violin Concerto. He had noticed that other students had nice violins and that the tone of his instrument was poor. The fact that he noticed this on his own prompted me to request an instrument from MusicLink to help him acquire a nicer instrument.

I am extremely grateful to the MusicLink Foundation for finding a beautiful violin donated by Eastman Strings to help Sunny pursue his passion and talent. He will eventually outgrow the instrument, but it gives his mother time to save for a nice full sized violin. The violin will remain in my studio for use by a future MusicLink student - so it will help more than one student. I think this is fabulous.

I appreciate the way this foundation connects sponsors with teachers and students who are in need. I am delighted to reduce tuition for Sunny by half, knowing that we (the foundation, sponsors, teachers, parents) are all working together to help a hard working student in need.

Washington DC & Newark DE:

The DC Metropolitan MusicLink program kicked off its new group lesson program at the Atlas Performing Arts Center showing off electric guitars worth over $7,000 donated to the program by the Gibson Foundation. MusicLink students are shown with Atlas teachers, DC Coordinator Matt Grason and Verdine White of Earth Wind and Fire. Some of these donated guitars will also be used by the Greater Newark Boys and Girls Club MusicLink program, coordinated by Chuck Leatherbury. Our thanks to Nina Miller of the Gibson Foundation and development consultants, Carroll and Beth Hauptle for making this contribution possible.


Ten year old Hobnir Laventure of Haiti received a piano and scholarship lessons thanks to the Steinway Piano Gallery in Bonita Springs. Sue Wege, our Southeast Regional Coordinator works with owner, Greg Billings to locate eligible MusicLink students for their program, which provides pianos and sponsored lessons through their Steinway Society. Billings states, "We believe that music education has tangible benefits for students, and we don' t want any students to miss this opportunity because of financial need." The Laventure family agrees and loves the sound of the piano now in their living room. For the full story from the Naples News, click here: Naples News Article

Now is the time of year for our "talent search" for outstanding students, with special emphasis on current SEVENTH GRADERS who show outstanding musical talent, academic achievement, and are in financial need. Students do not necessarily have to be enrolled in MusicLink. The Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars award supports those chosen throughout their secondary school musical and educational training, equaling thousands of dollars each year. DEADLINE is May 7th. Contact our Talent Coordinator with names of teachers with students who may qualify - Jennifer@musiclinkfoundation.org. Check jackkentcookefoundation.org for application details.

Virginia: Post Christmas
Piano for Connor

by Gabriella Ryan

Connor Wood's a special kid. You'd know that if you met him. He speaks as eloquently as an adult, even though he's only in the fourth grade at Three-Chopt Elementary. And his grades are as high as the sky. Put him in front of a piano, and Connor becomes a talented musician who can perform for hours, improvising songs he's heard and songs he's learned. He's always ready to perform at special events and even plays at a retirement home for Christmas. I recognized Connor's talent right away and knew that piano lessons were far beyond his family's means. That's why I volunteered to teach him - for free. And his little sister Keely too. For years I taught Connor how to make the music come alive under his fingers. And Connor made terrific progress.

But then the progress stopped. I knew what the problem was. Connor didn't have a piano to practice on. He'd never had one. He'd been using a small keyboard, without a pedal, that didn't even have all the keys he needed. That had worked in the beginning. But now that he was playing more advanced pieces, he needed practice time at the piano. What he really needed was a piano of his own. But his mom couldn't possibly afford one. Not even a used one.

I couldn't bear the thought of such talent going to waste. I had to do something to get a piano for Connor. I sought help from the Richmond Music Teachers Association, the MusicLink Foundation, and local piano dealers.

A post Christmas celebration occurred when Paul King of the Piano Gallery of Richmond, a MusicLink business partner, personally delivered a Kawaii piano to the Wood family as a gift for a deserving student. Connor's and his little sister Keely's eyes popped open and their jaws dropped as they watched the piano roll into their grandmother's home. Connor rushed to play it even before the bench was brought in, and didn't stop until his sister forced her way onto the bench to play as well. It was a happy, exciting event that all of us will remember forever. It warms my heart to see something like this.

Instruments Shared
Across the Country

From AZ to CA: When our migrant teenager violin program dwindled in Arizona several years ago, we were left with instruments that were in a closet, waiting to be used. Thanks to our regional coordinators, always on the lookout for deserving students, we were able to put several of these violins in the hands of MusicLink students who are cousins and immigrants from Viet Nam. Elaine, Stephanie, and Emily Duong of Riverside CA are multi-talented students who study violin with Laura Balisky and piano with Nancy Buck.

VA: A mother from Arlington VA carefully handed the violin played by her teenage daughter to Martha Smith, Virginia's MusicLink coordinator. She knew how her daughter, now deceased, had loved to play the instrument and wanted to have another deserving student share that joy. Martha sought out the perfect student for this instrument - Dulguun Khaltar a multiply talented teenager recently emigrated from Mongolia who is studying violin and piano through MusicLink with Jeanne Lowe, and will soon start voice lessons as well. Martha will be sure to invite this mother to the annual MusicLink recital this Spring to hear the violin sing once more under the fingers of a talented teenager.

CO: Vladislav Boguinia is an exceptionally talented MusicLink student of Barbara Barber of Estes Park. Vladislav received a violin and bow from the House of Weaver through the instrument request program that will make a real difference in his musical training. He and his brother, Yuri, are members of a string quartet called Novus Amadeus Quartet. They both play violin, viola, and piano, have won numerous competitions and perform in the Boulder Youth Symphony.

WA: What a difference a bench can make! Valerie Tedrow of Tacoma could tell that A'lasia had musical potential and her mother managed to save enough for a digital piano. However, it had no bench and Valerie discovered that A'lasia was actually standing up to practice. To the rescue, Kerry Prosser of Prosser Piano and Organ, a MusicLink business partner.

The new bench was a surprise at the next lesson, bringing a smile to A'lasia's face. Prosser agrees, noting that "Seeing the joy in a child's face is what it is all about. Keep up the good work, you will be blessed by your giving many times over! Glad I could participate in a positive way."

We also love to see the smiles on the faces of our thriving young musicians and wish to thank all the business and public donors who have generously provided instruments and funding to support our students. We are making beautiful music together!