Elville Center for the Creative Arts Update: Sharing Information About a New School Music Program Partnership - Sisters Academy of Baltimore
Good morning Elville and Associate' clients and friends of the Elville Center!

I hope this message finds everyone well as we move towards summertime. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some information about a new school music program relationship we've developed here at the Elville Center - Sisters Academy of Baltimore.

The Academy is “a tuition-free, Catholic, community-centered middle school that educates girls of different races, ethnicities and religions from families with limited economic means in southwest and west Baltimore. The Academy empowers its students to become agents of transformation in their families, communities, and society.” In May, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Jeanne Dolamore, Principal; Ms. Eileen Phelps, Development Director; and Ms. Alison Johnson, Music Teacher, at the Halethorpe-based Academy to learn about the school, its staff and students, and its music program’s current situation, its vision and needs.  

Last September the school was fortunate to hire Ms. Johnson through Notre Dame's Operation Teach Program, and in the words of Ms. Phelps, “she has been a true gift - a natural educator, who the students took to immediately.” Before her arrival and due to Covid, very little was happening musically at the school, so a three-pronged long-term plan was put into place. This involved building a general music program, a choir and instrumental program, and an experiential extended day program with music offerings including bells, guitar, and keyboard for starters. Good strides have been made on all three fronts, and recently Ms. Johnson has been doing a thorough inventory of instruments recently donated to the school.  

One of our biggest issues facing the music program right now are donated Instruments they currently could use that they do not have the funds to repair – and they know they will have the same issue with future donated instruments. Current repair needs include: 

  • 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, 1 euphonium, 5 clarinets, and 4 saxophones 
  • 1 cello and 2 - 3 violins that are in need of being repaired or set up properly (fallen sound posts, new strings, fine tuners required, etc.) 
The ongoing need for instrumental accessories are in line with the above as well - from violin bows of various sizes, to strings, rosins, shoulder pads and things like instrumental reeds for clarinets. The program also does not have any music stands for its students. 

As alluded to above, the program has two sets of beautiful hand chimes and one set of handbells that get a lot of use. Ms. Johnson has resurrected some hand chimes that were donated but several of them are starting to show a great deal of wear. While these sets are integral pieces to the music program, they are not sustainable in the long term. Ms. Johnson has identified the following needs: 

  1. replacement clappers for most of the hand chimes, those these have been difficult to identify and locate – or replacing the sets in full
  2. In order to use the handbells, specialty padding is needed for the tables on which they sit cut at custom sizes 
  3. Bell ringing (specialty) folders that can be attached to the tables for ease of reading

With all of this information in hand, the Elville Center sprang into action and is fulfilling several needs for Ms. Johnson, her students and The Sisters Academy music program as a whole, including:

1.     Purchasing 15 music stands as a start for the program. This was five more than Ms. Johnson mentioned would make an immediate impact for the program.
2.     Taking all of the instruments in the program’s inventory needing refurbishments to Music & Arts of Severna Park to refurbish as many of the instruments as practical
3.     Donating 11 requested musical instruments to the program, including five flutes, three violins with bows, two trombones, one clarinet, and one keyboard. More will be available to the program as the fall semester’s needs become more clear
4.     Donating several extra violin bows and a cello bow
5.     Researching costs and replacement options for the hand chime sets. This is a significant expenditure that will cost $1,000 - $1,300 per set, and donor support will be paramount to help the Elville Center fulfill this important need for the program. 
6.     Researching and contacting the company that makes the special foam padding for the hand bells to determine a solution to the custom padding needs for the program’s bells

I detailed The Sisters Academy program situation as it is a perfect example of a school music program we look forward to helping grow and succeed now and in the years to come. There are three critical factors we look for when partnering with a school that is developing a music program, all of which The Sisters Academy has: 1) it has the support of the school’s administration; 2) it has a dedicated teacher that is invested in and cares for her students very much; and 3) its students truly care about music and want to see the program grow.   As they say at Sisters Academy and in the words of Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, “Our children must know that they are miracles.” 

The Elville Center needs your support to further its important work and help develop and further new relationships such as Sisters Academy of Baltimore and continue to grow existing ones that are depending on the charity. Virtually every single one of the refurbished instruments and equipment the Elville Center provides are not possible without donor support. We need those instruments that you don’t use anymore and are taking up space.

And, most importantly, we need your monetary support to help refurbish those instruments, purchase supplies, and facilitate cultural learning experiences for student musicians in need such as those students at Sisters Academy.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, all donations made to the Elville Center are tax-deductible. Right now is an ideal time to consider a donation – it feels good to know you made a difference!  There are many needs at Sisters Academy we are working on, and we are asking for your support in helping us make a difference in these student musicians' lives!

To learn even more about the Elville Center for the Creative Arts, please visit www.elvillecenter.org, contact Executive Director Jeff Stauffer at jeff@elvillecenter.org, or call 443-676- 9691. Or, to donate through Venmo, please use our business handle (@elvillecenter). To donate through our website, please visit www.elvillecenter/donate. We appreciate and value your support!


Jeffrey D. Stauffer
Executive Director
Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc.
7100 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 190
Columbia, Maryland 21046
P: 443-393-7696 (Main)  

Elville Center for the Creative Arts, Inc. |Website