Byline: Sascha Kelly

Don’t Stop The Music was a three-part documentary series on ABC, following the journey of a primary school from an underprivileged area of Perth embarking on a music program and the transformative effects this has on the students, teachers and families involved. Simultaneously, Musica Viva ran an instrument donation campaign that saw 4, 500 instruments collected, processed and delivered to schools in need.

While the campaign ended on 31 January 2019, we’re still hearing stories from you that bring us joy. In South Australia, we distributed instruments to regional schools at distances up to four hundred kilometres north of Adelaide. Donations of brass and woodwind instruments to students in towns such as Orrorro, Peterborough and Hawker, allowed these schools to extend their band programs, with plans to create a large regional band in the future.

In the ACT, our State Manager Christina Cook had the pleasure of working directly with schools on the receiving end of instrument donations, and was sent many messages and photos from thankful students. As Byron Luck, a music teacher from Kingsford Smith School wrote, ‘It’s always a shame when students stop playing or can’t get their own instruments.’ He gave several examples of circumstances where talented young performers have now been able to realise their potential, as previously purchasing a good quality instruments may have been unaffordable.

At UC High School Kaleen, “receiving clarinets from Musica Viva meant that beginner students from low socio-economic circumstances were able to have the freedom to give it a go,” wrote teacher Stuart Gilding. And the positive impact on the children and teachers alike was clear to see. “When cost was not an issue, students stepped up to try new things.  Watching students experiment with musical experiences is so rewarding for a musician-educator like me,” Stuart added.

In Victoria, the television program also touched Lyn and David Munro. Upon hearing the callout for musical instruments, they immediately thought about the old violin they had in their home, which was sitting on top of a cupboard, gathering dust.

David remembers, “It was Lyn’s Aunt Sylvie’s instrument. Nobody had played it for decades. It had been valued a while ago but was not thought to be worth much. A musician friend suggested getting a new valuation and perhaps restoring it to a playable condition. After consultation with Lyn’s siblings, it was taken to Alex Grant Violins in Melbourne where Mr Grant became quite intrigued with the instrument. It had a label indicating that it had been made by a George Crask, when the spelling should have been Craske. Mr. Grant used all his detective skills and contacts overseas in an attempt to determine the true provenance of the instrument, unfortunately to no avail.”

“However, his valuation was considerably more than the earlier quote and, amazingly, it was sold during the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne. We firmly believe that music is an essential part of every child’s education, a view which is supported and well demonstrated by the Musica Viva’s Music in Schools Program. We are particularly impressed by the provisions for less affluent children to access both the concerts and on-going classroom musical activities. The sale of this instrument allowed us to make a significant donation to Musica Viva in memory of Sylvie Trobe.”                                                                   

Furthering Don't Stop The Music 

If you do still have a musical instrument, and are looking to rehome it, then the Australian Children’s Music Foundation receives instrument donations year-round and provides them to schools and individuals in need. Contact them to donate.

If you would like to donate an instrument to a rural, remote or indigenous school in need, you may be able to donate an instrument through Gift of Music, an initiative of Rural Aid.

You can also consider contacting a local public school directly. You may be able to find a suitable school to receive an instrument donation through SchoolsPlus.

You can also still donate old instruments to your local Salvos Store. All donated instruments will be sold to fund the Salvos’ community programs.