SURREY — Young music students will practice in the name of philanthropy this month.
A two-week “Practice-A-Thon” organized by a local non-profit society aims to raise money to help buy pianos for schools in Surrey.
Starting Monday (Jan. 15), pledge-collecting local students will sound off in hopes of generating $25,000 for the cause, brought to Surrey by Thank You for the Music Society in partnership with the BC Registered Music Teachers’ Association (South Fraser branch).
The Practice-A-Thon will involve more than 50 local, registered music teachers (as team captains) and their students, an estimated 1,000-plus young musicians in the Surrey area, in support of the school district’s music programs.
The majority of funds raised through the Practice-A-Thon will be donated to Surrey School District, “to support the purchase of new pianos in schools that need them the most,” according to Shelley Gimbel, president and founder of Thank You for the Music Society.
“I grew up in Surrey, and the school music programs made a huge difference in my life,” Gimbel said. “We want the Practice-A-Thon to help keep these public-school music programs going strong, and we hope local music students will have some fun and develop some good practice habits in the process.”
A post on the event website (raiseathon.ca/thankyouforthemusic) says Surrey School District has a “robust, thriving music program, but they have identified the need for more than 50 new pianos in schools across the district in the coming years. These pianos will support multiple music opportunities in local public schools – such as choirs, bands, jazz ensembles, musical theatre and individual practice – providing many local students with the opportunity to learn and embrace the positive power of music in their lives.”
Thank You for the Music, also known as TYFTM, thanks sponsors Tom Lee Music and piano tuner Chantal Fennell.
“A small group of society volunteers are currently seeking additional support from local, community organizations for prize donations for Practice-A-Thon participants, as well as financial support in matching donations,” the group added.
The event is “a great chance for local companies to show their love and support for the arts, and to get involved early in an exciting new fundraiser,” Gimbel added.
“We expect that the first annual Practice-A-Thon will be a great success, and our hope is for the fundraiser to become an annual community event, growing with each year.”
In September, Gimbel and Kelly O’Hagan of TYFTM presented a donation of $2,000 to North Surrey Secondary School’s music department, to purchase two digital keyboards, to be loaned out to several schools on a rotating basis, plus two tunings for the piano at North Surrey Secondary.
The donation represented partial proceeds from Thank You for the Music’s launch party and fundraiser in October 2016.
The society’s vision is communities “where everyone has the opportunity to enhance their quality of life through music, and is focused on projects to help realize that vision.”
More than a decade ago, in June of 2007, Gimbel hosted the first Thank You for the Music fundraiser, a benefit concert at the Stanley Theatre in Vancouver. Event proceeds were used to purchase two pianos, donated to elementary schools in Surrey and Burnaby.
In 2016, after a hiatus that involved motherhood and other significant life events, Gimbel revived the organization as a non-profit society, which is on the web at thankyouforthemusic.ca.