On heart strings / When I couldn’t get hold of Leo Daquioag, CEO and founder of Music For Life Foundation, I nearly shelved this story. He was on his way to Osaka to meet with Jake Shimabukuro who was in concert there, but I wanted to ask him specific questions about how his foundation, and the gift of a single instrument could change a person’s life. He would know: His foundation helps to assist underserved and impoverished communities around the state by donating money, musical instruments and equipment, thereby allowing children the life-rewarding benefits of music and art.
Then it occurred to me that I was that kid whose story I was searching for. The only music store within a 100-mile radius of my home town allowed my parents to rent my first instrument. It wasn’t an expensive clarinet, and I was no King of Swing, but that instrument taught me the fundamentals of music, and maybe even life.
I later enjoyed a love affair with a saxophone I named Hattie. A breezy relationship with the trumpet later, I discovered the piano, and in the winter of 1997, an Ibanez guitar changed my life forever, providing me scholarships to college and a career as a songwriter.
Schools around the country are attempting to solve their financial problems by eliminating music and arts programs. Broken instruments never get repaired. New ones never get purchased. And soon, music competitions, marching bands, and musical extracurriculars will become obsolete, leaving already isolated communities sonically deserted.
What if that famously Hawaiian instrument (indigenous to Portugal) never found its way into the hands of Israel Kamakawiwoole or Jake Shimabukuro? Thankfully, we’ll never have to know.
This Oct. 6 and 7, the Foundation is launching their first musical instrument and equipment collection drive where you can donate your spare or unused guitars, amps, ‘ukes, tubas and flutes to share and give others the chance to learn.