Greeley schools and youth programs received more than $25,000 in electric guitars, drums, keyboards and ukuleles this week.
The instruments were part of a donation from the Newport Festivals Foundation, which runs the Newport Folk and Jazz festivals. The program partnered up with Take Note Colorado, an initiative to give musical instruments and music education to every K-12 student in the state.
“I think a lot of people right now see music education as an optional elective and I think we need to reshape the way we think about music education,” said Dan Swain, with Newport Festivals Foundation. “It’s essential to a child’s development and it makes them better, more successful people in the long run.”
The foundation worked with Colorado performer Nathaniel Rateliff, who is an artist ambassador for Take Note Colorado, to determine a city in his state that could most benefit from the instruments.
Greeley’s diversity made it a good choice for the program, Swain said. More than 130 languages are spoken in the school district.
Before a performance by the Latin hip-hop group 2MX2, students from the Boys and Girls Club of Weld County got to try out their new instruments.
While he usually plays the drums, 8-year-old Ashtyn Kyle says he liked trying out all the different types of instruments.
“It's great for frustration because if you play the drums and you get so frustrated, you can take the sticks and just bang on something — to get all your anger out,” Kyle said.
Charlotte Arndt, 9, enjoyed strumming the ukulele but she had her eye on the electric guitars and drums.
“I’ve never played the drums before,” Arndt said, adding that music in general is something she loves. “You get to express yourself in a way where people can actually listen to you.”
The center has a few guitars and ukuleles along with a couple keyboards, but the donation will help them to share more instruments with other Boys and Girls Club sites throughout the county, said Marie Dean, director of the arts for the center.
“Music is a great outlet for kids,” said Dean, adding that she finds the kids who are fidgety or prone to acting out often find themselves at home in music class.
“Because they’re busy with their hands and they’re doing something that helps get all that energy out,” she said. “It also gives them something to focus on and it takes them away from the craziness. They learn something that they can then show to their peers and their parents.”