Instruments in the Attic Program Goes International

Posted: August 19, 2010 at 6:46 am, Last Updated: August 19, 2010 at 6:53 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Many cultures believe that music has strong healing powers. So when a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti in January and affected the lives of more than three million people, many longed for the cathartic sounds of music to help lift the country’s spirits.

Enter Instruments in the Attic, a community-outreach program of the Potomac Arts Academy, a branch of Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

“In our long-term plans for the Instruments in the Attic program, we have been thinking of ways that we can take this program to the international level,” says John Kilkenny, assistant director for the Potomac Arts Academy. “So when we were approached about the need for musical instruments for the people of Haiti, we couldn’t have imagined a more perfect fit.”

Since it began in 2008, the program, which is directed by Potomac Arts Academy Director Libby Curtis, has collected and distributed more than 150 instruments to Mason’s music-education students who need them to complete their degrees. In addition, instruments will also be available for use by several local education and outreach programs that will begin in the upcoming academic year.

The plan to donate the instruments to Haitians was set in motion by Mark Denicore, a Virginia attorney specializing in structural engineering. After returning from a recent trip to the St. Charles Head Together community in Jacmel, Haiti, Denicore began working with the Community Coalition for Haiti, a nonprofit organization based in Vienna, Va., to help raise $30,000 to purchase tents for the community of 300.

During his trip, Denicore served as an assistant to a trained physical therapist and taught English courses in the evening. When he traveled with the medical team to one of the community churches one afternoon, he was approached by Pastor Robert Noel, who longed for musical instruments to help draw people to the church where they might find some comfort.

When Denicore returned to Virginia, he immediately called a colleague at Mason who got him in touch with Curtis and Kilkenny. After taking a look at the inventory of Instruments in the Attic and determining the logistics of sending them to Haiti, Curtis and Kilkenny offered to donate two keyboards, two acoustic and electric guitars, a drum set and other smaller instruments.

“In the long run, we would all like the Instruments in the Attic program to have an international presence. Mason is expanding globally, and it only makes sense that the program eventually has the same reach,” says Kilkenny.

“This initial donation to Haiti is a great first step and says a lot about the success of the program and the importance of music in everyone’s lives.”

Through a series of fund-raisers and donation drives, Denicore has raised approximately $16,000 for the tents. He plans to return to Haiti in October to help the community set them up and to personally deliver the instruments.

“These people have endured so much and are so thankful for the basic necessities we take for granted,” says Denicore.

For more information about Denicore’s efforts, see his blog.

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