August 08, 2022 I Philanthropy

CME Teams with Gift of Music Foundation

After years of budget cuts to music education programs nationwide, the Gift of Music Foundation was founded in 2015 to make musical instruments and music education more accessible to kids through reduced-price rentals and rent-free instrument programs. The foundation usually accepts instrument donations of any kind to generate a portion of the funds they use to support rental programs for families in need. But, sometimes, they get instruments donated by musicians — like the premium instruments available for purchase in the Gift of Music Collection now at Chicago Music Exchange (CME).

“Our mission is to find the highest value for any instrument that’s donated, as it relates to those kids — they’re our entire focus,” said the Gift of Music Foundation’s Tom Gibson. “For player-grade instrument donations, like the ones now at CME, our sales department sells donations and puts the revenue towards student band instruments, in order to fund supplemental rental programs where families that can’t afford full rentals get half-rentals, or gifted instruments.”

Every $5,000 raised from sales of instruments in the Gift of Music Collection will help provide at least 25 kids with instruments, while also helping fund up to 50 school year-long music classes and putting up to 100 students in summer programs. So, any instrument purchased from this collection of vintage and used instruments at CME will be an investment in the future of music — not only for the buyer of each instrument, but for music students, too.

“It’s very rare that we get a collection of premium instruments,” Gibson said. “Sometimes we get a keyboard that’s been sitting around, lots of drum sets, old clarinets [or] maybe a rusty flute. Since, we have a world-class in-house repair shop, [they] can make any musical instrument suitable for a student player, to bring it ‘up to snuff.’ But, this collection was a total game changer for us.

“So, I called my friend Coy Bowles from the Zac Brown Band, [who] actually happens to be a former student of mine. He’s really into guitars and a collector himself. We were looking for someone that really knew what these things were, and what the value of these instruments might really be. He got back to me, and as it happens, he was on vacation, on a beach somewhere with [Chicago Music Exchange’s CEO] Andrew Yonke. From there, it happened fast. CME was incredible about jumping right in and helping out. Now, here we are!”

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