Music teacher searches for musical instruments to donate to students in the Dominican Republic

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Dr. Benjamin Yates’ trombone isn’t the only instrument he’ll take to the Dominican Republic when he travels to the Caribbean nation to perform with professional orchestras.
The assistant professor of the School of Music and Performing Arts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette plans to bring flutes, clarinets, saxophones, bassoons, oboes, trumpets, horns, violins and other musical instruments.
Yates needs help packing, however.
He is looking for donated instruments – instruments that are functional or in need of minor repairs – which will be passed on to student musicians in cities such as Santiago, La Vega, San Pedro de Macorís and Santo Domingo.
“Maybe you have a family member who started in a group in fifth grade and then dropped out in high school. Or, you have an old instrument that’s been in the attic forever and you don’t know what to do with. Either way, I can find a home for her, ”Yates said.
He helps two professors at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa – Tony Guzman and Michael K. Smith – coordinate donations. Yates studied with Guzman and Smith in college, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music education and trombone performance in 2008.
The Dominican Trombonists Association invited the trio to present artists and clinicians at their 2021 conference from August 4-8. They will play with the Moca Youth Concert Band and the La Vega Youth Symphony Orchestra and will give a master class.
They will also visit several community ensembles, amateur groups ranging from schoolchildren to adults who do not receive funding from school systems or governments. They will provide instructions for the ensembles and instruments for the students.
“It’s inconceivable for some of us, but many musicians in these ensembles don’t have the money to repair or replace instruments, so a lot of them end up with instruments that barely work,” Yates explained.
It’s a dynamic that he saw firsthand. On a previous visit to the Dominican Republic, Yates “watched someone play a trombone with a missing water key at the end of the slide. They plugged the hole with a piece of eraser and wrapped duct tape around it.
Educators also created a GoFundMe page with a goal of $ 2,500 to cover necessary repairs for donated instruments and shipping costs. Any remaining money will be used to buy “moderately priced second-hand instruments that are in working order” from outlets such as eBay, Yates explained.
For more information about the project, where to bring instruments, or how to donate, contact Yates at benjamin.yates@louisiana.edu or 337-482-5219.


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