When we were growing up, the Barton family had home-cooked dinners together most evenings. Our mom’s recipes weren’t gourmet but they were delicious and there was always plenty. We sisters would hurry to the table every night, drawn by the mouthwatering smells. As we eagerly dug in, we laughed and chatted.
Now imagine a very different scenario: what if our family only owned a single fork or didn’t have enough food for us three sisters? We would have had to eat in shifts, remaining hungry while waiting our turn, or maybe we would have had dinner only every other night. And we’d no longer have been able to enjoy each other’s company at dinner time.
This may seem a bit far-fetched, but it’s analogous to what’s happening with the music programs run by BLUME Haiti. BLUME Haiti has 10 programs throughout the country, teaching 5,000 children every year. Their music students are dedicated–some have to dodge gunfire to come to their lessons. Two or even three students typically share a single instrument. It makes practicing a challenge, and it makes playing together in a larger ensemble impossible. In addition to instruments, lack of music supplies are another impediment to the dreams of these aspiring young artists. Very often, the students do not have enough copies of the same method book, so they cannot learn the same repertoire.
That’s where the Rachel Barton Pine (RBP) Foundation’s Global HeartStrings comes in. Global HeartStrings is dedicated to supporting classical music in developing countries by sending the instruments, music, and basic supplies that they so desperately need.
Last month, we sent a large donation to BLUME Haiti, including 38 instruments, 532 strings, 326 reeds, 217 rosins, and thousands of pieces of sheet music, as well as many other accessories such as music stands. We were privileged to meet three of their passionate young teachers who journeyed to Chicago to collect the supplies, including Tashee Pavilus, a 17-year-old cellist. What blew us away was her reaction to our stock of rosin. When we asked her how many she needed, her immediate response was, “How many do you have?” We then learned that many of her students had run out! (Without rosin, bow hair drawn across strings makes no sound at all.) This was really eye-opening. After all, every American student, no matter how poor, has the basic tools they need to play their instrument.
Our gift to Haiti was possible because of your financial contributions, and thanks to donations of supplies from music shops, manufacturers, music sororities, youth orchestras, and many wonderful individuals. Because of your generosity, many of the young musicians in Haiti will be able to give their very first band and orchestra concerts together this year!
The RBP Foundation’s other programs also are continuing to expand. This spring, we selected 20 new recipients for our Instrument Loan Program and Grants for Education and Career. We look forward to sharing some of their stories with you in our next update.
The future of classical music depends on supporting talented students and young professional musicians during the early years of their development. With your help, these young artists can make the world a better place by enriching the lives of all who hear them and inspiring the next generation. Your gift is truly the gift of a lifetime.