No Instrument? No Problem!
Initiated with the purpose of extending the opportunity to attain a music education to children who otherwise could not afford lessons, Quarantunes has certainly helped level the playing field. However, another question arose: what about those who do not have a musical instrument due to a myriad of potential challenges? Therefore, founder Julia Segal conceived the idea of an instrument donation program, where Quarantunes would collect instruments from donors or monetary donations to be funneled towards purchasing instruments; from there, kids with a clear passion for music can sign up to become a beneficiary.
Outreach officers Lali Ghate and Zoe Farajian worked tirelessly alongside Segal to establish the program and pair kids up with instruments. Despite their worries, finding donors was not difficult and they have partnered with LaMorinda Music, a local music store which donates used but operational instruments to the program. LaMorinda has donated around six instruments including trombones and a cello.
The more challenging issue revolved around “getting the instruments out,” according to Farajian. It was “hard to reach out to low income communities” because they are “not necessarily in our circle,” says Ghate. However, by connecting with different organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Hip Hop for Change which already had roots in low income communities, the team was able to advertise the instrument donation program.
The process of applying for an instrument is simple: one fills out an application on the Quarantunes website. The two most important aspects that Quarantunes considers when deciding whom to prioritize include financial need and musical drive. Asking how long each child will practice provides an indicator of their motivation.
After prioritizing applicants based on financial need and motivation for music, Ghate and Farajian pair up the applicants with the instruments in storage. If one lives within an hour of Menlo Park or Pleasant Hill, the instruments can be delivered to one’s house; otherwise, the other option is picking up instruments at volunteer locations in Palo Alto, Oakland, and Pleasant Hill.
At the moment, around twenty applications are being processed but officers Ghate and Farajian are working around the clock to efficiently communicate with all applicants. Sometimes Quarantunes does not have the requested instruments, so the team is looking to forge partnerships with more music stores across the Bay Area and start raising money to purchase more instruments for those in need.
Generous individuals and music stores have volunteered to donate instruments ranging from a cello, flutes, a violin, and more to the program.
Additionally, since the scale of the operation is still relatively small, all the instruments are stored at Segal, Ghate or Farajian’s house. Ghate mentions that the team is “looking to get a storage unit and have a more streamlined program for connecting students.”
Expansion of the program is definitely the goal. Farajian hopes “to start working with bulk donations from other music donations [and] possibly to ship these instruments around the country.”
Having already donated fifteen instruments to people who otherwise would not have been able to afford them, the program is already working, to “making music education accessible and equitable,” says Farajian.
Farajian fondly recalls one “wonderful man” who wanted to play piano his entire life but “had never been able to afford a piano and who lost his job due to the pandemic.” He received a keyboard from the instrument donation program and now takes free piano lessons from Quarantunes; he even has begun teaching his neurodiverse brother to play piano as well.
Established with the purpose of providing equitable access to music, Quarantunes is taking even larger strides in the direction with the instrument donation program. Ghate states that it is truly “rewarding to see the joy it brings to kids who otherwise would not be able to have music education.”