Gaps filled in youth music education

The nonprofit, Lancaster County-based organization, founded last autumn by a handful of folks who believe music is getting shortchanged in public education, has awarded its first round of grants to seven local schools and programs.

The grants, organization president John Gerdy said Monday, total more than $11,000.

“That was more than we expected,” Gerdy said. “We were delighted with the number of people writing checks and supporting our events.”

The big winner is the School of District of Lancaster, which received grants for music programs at McCaskey High School and two elementary schools. Other grants went to a suburban marching band, a day-care center, a dance troupe and a park association.

“The cause really struck a chord with a lot of people,” Gerdy said. “People are well aware of — and are concerned about — cuts in funding for music in education. And they’re aware how important music is in a well-rounded education.”

MFE hopes to award grants each spring.

Recipients this year are:

  • King Elementary School, to purchase a piano.
  • “Sometimes I wonder how in the world we are going to meet the needs of our students,” King music teacher Julie Bertrand said. “This piano is a godsend.”
  • McCaskey High School Vocal Ensemble, for piano tuning and repair.
  • Washington Elementary School, for stringed instrument repairs and replacements.
  • Manheim Central Marching Band, for the purchase of two marching baritones.
  • Lancaster Day Care Center, for various instruments, listening equipment and music programming for preschool children.
  • Imani Edu-Tainers African Dance Company, to conduct community classes in dance and drumming.
  • Huffnagle Park Civic Association, to underwrite a performance during its Summer Music in the Park series.

“We were able to give something to everyone who sent us an application,” Gerdy said. “That wasn’t unexpected because it’s our first year.

“Now that people have heard we were able to give money, I’m sure we’ll have more applications for the next round. … As we move on down the line with this, we’ll become better at identifying the organizations in need.”

Gerdy said Music for Everyuone members “don’t want to be an organization that simply writes a check and says ‘good luck and bye-bye.’ We want to establish relationships with these organizations and, as they identify their needs, we can hopefully get involved on an ongoing basis,” he said.

“You also want to be sure that the money is being spent on what it’s supposed to be spent for — that it’s actually having an impact.”

Incorporating music into a school’s curriculum improves math, verbal skills and reasoning skills, Gerdy said. “The evidence of the importance of music is overwhelming.”

Contact Gerdy at for more information on MFE.

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