Gift of Music has purchased guitars and other instruments for students to use along with free music instruction in a variety of formats. In addition to this instruction, the Fund has donated instruments to youth in Michigan (Keweenaw and Kalamazoo), and in Southern California and interior Alaska through Gift of Music satellites. Gift of Music has also worked with community foundations and local schools to bring music to students in after school formats.
Gift of Music also works to provide outdoor education opportunities to students in the Keweenaw peninsula through a cooperative effort with area schools. Instruction in gardening, and in making apple cider and maple syrup take place here on our farm, along with outdoor writing activities and wildlife observations. In Kalamazoo, the Gift is working with Kalamazoo County Parks and the Kalamazoo Garden Alliance to develop an "Edible and Educational Trail", bringing community members and local businesses together to promote the utilization, beautification, and cultivation of the city's public landscapes.
MUSIC EDUCATION AND OUTDOOR EDUCATION IN THE KEWEENAW
Retired school teachers, John and Charmaine Parsons, invite area youth to their home and farm for valuable outdoor education programs that include: Growing, Harvesting and Preserving your own food, Apple Tree Pruning, Wild Rice Planting, Pond Ecology and Plant Identification, Maple Syrup Production, Keeping Chickens and more.
The Gift of Music is also given in the form of low-cost and free music lessons throughout the Keweenaw. Our programming currently offers after-school music instruction in both guitar and piano to approximately 20 students in Keweenaw county. This includes our purchase of ukuleles and weekly instruction for the students attending the Copper Harbor school.
AFTER SCHOOL MUSIC PROGRAMMING IN KALAMAZOO
Partnering with Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo and The Kalamazoo Community Foundation, the Gift of Music brings hands-on music education to the Kalamazoo Public School classroom. There students have the opportunity to play any instrument they've ever dreamed of—from electric guitars and drums to cellos and trombones—additionally, they are guided by professional musicians through the creative process of writing and recording an original song.
The result is nothing short of inspiring for youth and staff alike. Students leave with a sense of accomplishment having been a part of creative collaboration with their peers, moving beyond their apprehensions associated self expression and artistic performance.
Providing the independent musician community an opportunity to share their knowledge and feel valued is a primary focus of the Gift of Music's full-circle commitment to the arts and music in Kalamazoo.
FARM BLOCK MUSIC FEST AND REUNION
In addition to grants and individual donors, The Farm Block Fest and Reunion (FBF) provides a source of income for the Fund. But, much more than this, FBF is an appreciation of the beauty of the Keweenaw, and a celebration of art, music, and the outdoors. Approximately 30 musical acts from throughout Michigan and other states perform each year. Informative workshops, local food, art vendors, and group art projects provide a deeply enriching experience for the whole family. In 2017, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of FBF, with many attendees and artists returning year after year.
In late December of 2007, a very close friend of the Parsons' family, Dan Schmitt, was killed in a traffic accident in the Keweenaw. Dan was an aspiring musician and our family was shocked and tremendously hurt by his death. We thought about the importance of our friend's life, and especially about his gift of music in our lives. As a result we decided as a family to hold a music festival in his honor, and to give the money we raised to a fund that would encourage and help other young people in the Keweenaw to discover the gift of music.