Instruments in the Attic Contributes to Ongoing Music Education

Posted: August 27, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: December 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Research has shown a strong correlation between thriving school music education programs and solid academic achievement. Unfortunately, area schools, as well as Mason students who contribute to successful local school music programs, are facing a shortage of musical instruments.

Instruments in the Attic, a new tax-deductible instrument donation program at Mason, encourages Mason faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends to donate instruments they no longer use to the Music Department for use by music education students. To complete his or her degree, every music education student must become proficient on eight instruments and know how to complete simple repairs.

Too few available department instruments means that oftentimes students must borrow or trade instruments with one another.

“The Instruments in the Attic program will not only serve to provide badly needed instruments for Mason music education students, but will also strengthen the bridge we are building with the outside community,” says Bill Reeder, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

All instruments, new and used or in need of repair, will be accepted.

Last spring, J.P. Phaup, a trustee of the George Mason University Foundation and vice chair of the Arts at Mason Board, was given a slightly used trumpet by a neighbor who told him to see if the Mason Music Department could put it to good use. Two weeks later, John Casagrande, professor of music education, met with Reeder and his staff to discuss the growing problem of the lack of instruments for music education students.

Together Phaup and Casagrande created the idea of Instruments in the Attic.

According to Phaup, “The first goal of the program is to meet the current needs of music education students. In order to solve this problem, the Music Department would like to acquire 150 additional instruments to close this gap. If the department purchased these instruments, the price would total more than $250,000. By encouraging community members to donate instruments, the department can avoid the heavy price tag and still reach its goal of 150 instruments.”

The program aims to accomplish a second goal of providing needed instruments to school districts in which students complete their music education practice teaching. Once students have learned to play their eight instruments, they will be required to spend a semester teaching in a public school in nearby Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Manassas or Manassas Park.

Those who contribute instruments to the Instruments in the Attic program will receive invitations to Mason student music concerts and events, as well as complimentary tickets to the annual Mason Holiday Concert on Sunday, Dec. 7. The donation will be acknowledged in the holiday concert program in celebration of the first Instruments in the Attic collection drive.

For more information about the Instruments in the Attic program or to make an instrument donation, e-mail Candy Neukam at or call703-993-9889.

Write to at