PRESS RELEASE, FEBRUARY 17, 2022 — Thanks to a unique partnership between the Ashland School District, the Ashland Schools Foundation (ASF) and Conn-Selmer, Inc., the largest maker of musical instruments in North America, Ashland students have access to much-needed band and orchestra instruments beginning this year. A variety of federal grants, stimulus funding, and private donations are making this possible, along with support from the Ashland community.
The pandemic has had a severe effect on performing arts programs nationwide, and Ashland, which is known for its strong support for the arts, is no different. Band and orchestra in the Ashland School District have seen dramatic drops in student participation as in-person school was replaced by internet-based learning in spring of 2020. To complicate the situation, many of the instruments used by these programs were beyond their normal life cycle, so the district was already faced with replacing broken equipment.
Ashland High School band director Ian Miller explains:
The opportunity to provide every student in Ashland who wants to learn a musical instrument the chance to do so is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What this really means is that no child who goes to our schools will ever find themselves lacking when competing for scholarships or opportunities with other students regionally or nationally because they did not have a quality instrument. It’s an investment in an equitable future in which cost or access to an instrument will never be an issue.
School-owned instruments are crucial in creating equity for students who can’t afford to purchase or rent instruments. The pandemic also triggered the demise of local music stores which rented instruments to students.
Through a personal connection between the Ashland School District and Conn-Selmer’s CEO, a dialog began two years ago about the need to replace the district’s aging instruments. The impact of the pandemic on performing arts also created opportunities in the form of grants and stimulus funding, which ultimately helped Ashland seal a deal. Federal ESSER funds passed through the state to help address the negative impacts of COVID-19, and every school district in Oregon received its share. By combining ESSER funds, Ashland School District funds, a stimulus discount from Conn-Selmer, local contributions, and ASF funds still-to-be-raised, the district was able to purchase a quarter of a million dollars worth of musical instruments for under $80,000.
“It’s not often an opportunity as tremendous as this one comes along,” says Ashland Schools Foundation Executive Director Erica Thompson. “The perfect combination of a generous discount offer and federal funding has come at the perfect time. We’re honored to take part in raising the final funds needed to bring the project to fruition.”
ASF is launching a new fundraising effort to raise a balance of $35,000 in order to complete the purchase. Meanwhile, instruments have already begun arriving at Ashland High School and Ashland Middle School, while existing usable instruments are being reserved for a new music program at John Muir Outdoor School.
About Ashland Schools Foundation
The ASF is a 501(c)(3), non-profit public benefit corporation, organized exclusively for educational and charitable purposes. Our mission is to support quality education in the Ashland public schools through fundraising in the community. For more information, or to support this project, please visit http://www.ashlandschoolsfoundation.org.
With a history dating back to 1875, Conn-Selmer is the leading manufacturer and distributor of musical instruments for student, amateur, and professional use. Most instruments are still hand-made in the U.S. With a tradition of innovation and superior musical performance, brands such as Vincent Bach, C.G. Conn, King, Holton, Selmer, Armstrong, Leblanc, Ludwig, Musser, and Scherl & Roth have earned a legacy of respect unparalleled by any other builders. For more information, please visit https://www.conn-selmer.com.