Continuing the series, Doing Good Works, I have two amazing students to introduce to you: Christian Boudreau, a junior at Choate Rosemary Hall and his brother, Gavin, a student at Avon Middle School. They both have created a program called Music For Minors.
In Christian’s own words:
“It has been 8 years since I was first introduced to the world of instrumental music, beginning with the clarinet then adding the saxophone, flute, piano and several others along the way. Though I began playing instruments for the sheer enjoyment of it, doing so has opened many doors for me and has become something I now consider pursuing in the future as I contemplate my college options. I am truly grateful to have been provided with each of the instruments I have requested to play, as well as for the years of private lessons and opportunities I’ve been given to perform with many different ensembles as a result.
It is this appreciation that has led me to embark on a community service project that aims to bring music into the lives of those who otherwise may not be afforded the same opportunity I have been given. Music for Minors is a vision I have, and one I would like to make a reality, but also one that requires assistance from my friends, families and neighbors for it to be successful.
My plan is this: collect instruments of all types, ages, quality, condition, etc. (preferably playable or easily refurbished, and purchased at nominal cost or via donation if possible). Then, have these instruments evaluated and refurbished if necessary (with funds donated or raised via fundraising efforts) and ultimately provide these “gifts” free of cost to local, young aspiring musicians.”
Given how involved my sons are involved in music (one plays the the violin and the other, the saxophone), I had to feature Christian and Gavin for their awesome work. Special thanks to Sherryl Boudreau for bringing her sons to be photographed by me for this project.
Here are a few questions I asked the Boudreau brothers about the program they have created in our community here in the Farmington Valley.
1) What was the genesis of the Music For Minors program?
We learned through friends in our previous school district that there were many students who didn’t participate in musical activities because of their lack of ability to afford instruments. We became aware that the issue wasn’t just isolated to that particular district but many others as well.
2) Who motivates you to collect musical instruments?
The children that we notice who have the desire to pursue music but don’t necessarily have the means to do so.
3) You have learned to play a couple of instruments. As musicians, what kind of an impact does donating musical instruments do for you personally?
Christian – I know that I am giving someone else the same opportunity I was presented with that may not have been possible otherwise. It makes me feel as though I could be impacting the life of someone in a way they may not have foreseen.
Gavin – I feel like donating instruments could help someone pursue a path in life that they may not have been offered otherwise.
4) Where do you find most of your musical instruments? And who repairs them? How much does it cost for each of them to be repaired?
We have used social media as our primary source of instrument collection since the beginning of this endeavor. Music and Arts was gracious enough to repair several guitars. Jon Ball of The Music Lab, has refurbished and overhauled the majority of our instruments so far including all of our woodwinds, brass and string instruments. It costs approximately $225 for a woodwind and brass to be overhauled and under $100 for the strings.
5) Why is Music For Minors so important for both of you?
Because we know that music has the power to impact the lives of young people in more than one way.
6) How involved are your parents in coordinating your project, Music For Minors?
Our mom has been instrumental in getting the behind the scenes work done including working to obtain a trade name certificate as well as well as certification of our organization as an official charity. The rest is up to us.
7) Was there one particular moment as the project started to expand, that stands out for either of you? Describe it.
Christian – I would say when I received an email from the Kids for Kids, Dancing for Life organization I knew this project was going to be bigger than I initially imagined. What initially started as a community service project was becoming something much bigger than I ever imagined which is why I had to ask Gavin and my mom for assistance with moving things forward.
8) How do you motivate your classmates to participate in Music For Minors?
Christian – In an effort to prompt participation, I presented this endeavor to my entire school body at Choate Rosemary Hall during a school wide meeting the spring semester.
Gavin – I plan on working with the administration and music department at Avon Middle School this year to promote our charity so that we can continue to bring in more instruments and monetary donations to repair those we receive.
9) How many musical instruments have you collected / donated so far?
We have collected 27 instruments so far though the majority of them are in the process of being repaired and refurbished which takes a considerable amount of time. We have donated 2 guitars to The Institute of Living via Hartford Hospital thus far and plan to donate many more within the next month as the beginning of school approaches.
10) What kind of a lasting impact do you think you are making in someone else's life?
Music has been an integral part of both our lives for many years. Being involved with many ensembles, both in the school environment and otherwise has opened doors for us that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. We hope to pass on that same experience to other talented young people who have the heart and desire to make their musical dreams come true.
11) What are your future plans for the charity?
We hope that our charity grows beyond the confines of our local community and eventually takes off to include not only Connecticut but all of New England as well. At this point we are continuously working to get the word out about our needs which include instruments that may be hiding in someone’s closet, cases to house the instruments that have been refurbished, incidentals that are needed for any aspiring musician and of course monetary donations needed to cover the costs of repairs.
I sincerely appreciate Jon Ball of The Music Lab, for allowing me to photograph Christian and Gavin on the premises of his Southington, Connecticut business.