SEMINOLE — Local volunteers working with the Spirit of Harmony Foundation, a Chicago-based national nonprofit organization dedicated to music education advocacy, will host an instrument drive Saturday, Feb. 22, 2 to 5 p.m., at Seminole Elks Lodge #2519, 10717 Seminole Blvd.

Sarasota resident Veronica Alonso was immediately drawn to the mission of the organization, which was founded by musician Todd Rundgren, when she first learned about it five years ago. At first, she supported Spirit of Harmony in smaller ways — asking friends and family for donations and spreading the nonprofit’s message.

She had the desire to do something bigger, though, and one year ago connected with other Spirit of Harmony supporters in the Tampa Bay area to organize her first instrument collection at the Seminole Elks Lodge. During that first event, they collected five tables of donated instruments.

“It was amazing the number of instruments collected last year,” Alonso said. “It was very, very heartwarming.”

This year’s events will collect instruments for Instruments of Changed based in Bradenton. Instruments of Change will provide the needed repairs to the donated instruments and distribute them locally to music education programs and disadvantaged students.

“We believe it’s a moral imperative that all children shall have access to music education,” said Jean Lachowicz, who works in Spirit of Harmony’s national office.

Two years of music education three to four times a week changes a child’s brain for life, she added. “Music education literally levels the playing field for children disadvantaged in economic ways. That is measureable.”

Studies show that students who learn to play a musical instrument are more likely to graduate from high school, have higher math scores and self-esteem, and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, said Instruments of Change founder Glen Schubert. “There’s a real heart behind this mission. It’s helping these students academically even though they don’t know it.”

Alonso added, “So many people have no concept of how much music (education) means to the young brain. That’s why outreach is so important.”

There is no cost to attend the Feb. 22 event, though attendees are encouraged to donate used instruments or to make a financial contribution to Spirit of Harmony Foundation.

The event will feature Tampa Bay area musicians Brian Zak, Jimmy Suvoy and the Botomatics. Students from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office PAL drumline and color guard will also perform in a drum circle.

For more information, visit spiritofharmony.org or instrumentsofchange.com.

SOURCE: tbnweekly.com