Giving Back One Musical Instrument at a Time

Music is a gift that can reach everyone.

“There is some form of music that is for everybody. The love for music is amazing, and anyone can get involved in music if you just try something. Most people have a desire to get involved in music, and there are always ways to start off as a beginner, and it can very rewarding,” says Brett Murray, founder of Concerts for Causes, Inc. 

Concerts for Causes is a nonprofit organization that raises funds to give musical instruments to students in underserved communities.

Brett began his organization in 2012.

“I have always had a love for music, and there is a tremendous need in the community,” Brett says. “There are so many dedicated teachers, but the first thing omitted from the budget are the arts programs. Growing up, music made a big difference in my life, but they don’t supply instruments as they have in the past.”

Brett decided to change that by getting instruments into the hands of students who may not otherwise get the opportunity with the “Save the Music” program.

Musical education is important and can be life-changing because it sparks students’ interest and encourages them to learn in alternative ways.

“There are studies on left and right brain. Many people are not reached in the traditional methods of education. Many people give up on education if they are not able to learn,” Brett says. “Arts and music stimulation can help with enhanced learning skills.”

Also, students involved in music get the benefit of being a part of a group, learning how to work together and learning team-building skills. Studies show that music education helps people learn math skills, reading and things they have never learned before it finally started to register as they got involved in music that kept their interest.

“Fifty percent of students or more will drop out of school if they have no stimulation. Ninety-five percent of students involved in musical or arts programs graduate and go on to higher learning,” Brett says.

In order to raise funds for purchasing musical instruments and to donate to groups in need, such as wounded warriors, Concerts for Causes hosts large events including the Savor Bowie: Food, Wine and Music Festivalat the Bowie Towne Centre. The spring 2018 event brought in 24,000 people over two days. The one-day fall event usually brings in 10,000 people. The spring 2019 Savor Bowie: Food, Wine and Music Festival is free to enter and will be held on April 13-14 at the Bowie Towne Centre. Food, drink and wares are available for purchase from vendors, and there is also a free wine tasting. Patrons can listen to music on two stages from about 24 different musical acts. Proceeds from these events go toward purchasing instruments for students.

“People can support us through donations, but when we do our events, we raise money through these concerts and at the festivals. People support the vendors and sponsors who in turn support our organization,” Brett says.

With these events and large concerts, students who received instruments and had gone on to college will often come back to perform with the orchestra for these star-studded events.

Some of the other programs hosted by Concerts for Causes are the One Night benefit concert featuring Gerald Alston from the Manhattans, Howard Hewett from Shalamar and Russell Thompkins Jr. from the Stylistics.

“We wrote out the music score for all of their songs to have the orchestra to play with them, then added a choir with them. We wanted to create a supergroup,” Brett says.

All of the hard work is rewarded when the organization can surprise students with instruments.

“We work with the schools, but we give the instruments directly to students. I go shopping at the music stores and buy up to 20 brand-new instruments and come into the place like Santa Claus,” Brett says. “These are kids that may not be used to receiving brand-new gifts with no strings attached. It can be very emotional for these students when they realize that these are their instruments. They can keep them through the summer and take them to college if they choose to pursue music.”

Another way they surprise students is to bring them on stage at events and present them with an instrument. Concerts for Causes would give free tickets to the musical directors, who would then bring students to the shows to be surprised with their very own instrument. Over the last year, they were able to give away 300 instruments to deserving students.

“Sometimes when we present an instrument, the student begins to cry, which causes everyone else to cry, and that raw emotion is there due to the power of music,” Brett says.

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