Blues Angel Music Foundation donates ukuleles to schools in Pensacola

Ukuleles won’t just be somewhere above the rainbow for some area classrooms next year.

The Blues Angel Music Foundation plans to purchase ukulele sets for the classroom for up to 12 interested teachers to enhance children’s music education. The foundation also plans to teach teachers how to implement a ukulele program in their classrooms.

“It’s something else that they can add to their music program at their school. The school doesn’t have the funds to buy the ukuleles to teach the kids,” said executive director Dan Fugate.

Blues Angel Music, the store associated with the foundation, started a free ukulele lesson on Saturdays about 10 years ago. The class had to be put on hold during the pandemic, but before that it inspired one member, Janet Bright so much that she left a $ 10,000 endowment to the foundation after her death.

The foundation just received the funds about a week ago and decided to start the ukulele program with them.

“I thought it would be appropriate to use this money to fund something ukulele. That’s why we thought about putting ukuleles in classrooms,” said Nan DeStafney, owner of Blues Angel Music. , who also heads the foundation.

Ukuleles can be particularly suitable for classrooms because they are easy to learn, Fugate said. The foundation also plans to buy a brand called Waterman Ukulele, which are plastic, waterproof and easy to sanitize.

“The thing with the ukulele is that it’s an easy to learn fretted string instrument, and kids can pick it up, and older people who have dexterity issues can play too,” said Fugate, who Also serves as store marketing. director.

For each classroom, the plan is to purchase a set of 12 or 24 instruments, which is the total space on a “tree” or ukulele stand. So far, the foundation has been contacted by two or three teachers already interested in being part of the program.

Fugate said that even for children who don’t intend to get into music professionally, music can benefit their education by exercising their brains. DeStafney said she hopes children find joy in the instruments.

“They’re playing ukuleles in Israel right now, in China and around the world. It’s the international language. Music is what we all have in common,” she said.

Teachers interested in being part of the program can call the store at 850-457-7557 or email Fugate at dan@bluesangelmusic.com. Once a few teachers are lined up, the foundation will place an order in time for the next school year.

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“We have to find the teachers who want to because if you are a piano teacher and have no desire to teach ukulele in your class, I don’t need to send a bunch of ukuleles and that is why we went the teacher route, ”DeStafney said.

The foundation was created to support music education in schools as well as to provide music therapy to people with autism or suffering from head trauma or neurological disorders.

The store bears all of the foundation’s staff and administrative costs, so the profits are spent on programming, DeStafney said. The foundation raises a large portion of its funds from food sales during its free Blues at the Bay concert series each summer.

The foundation also accepts monetary donations and donations of instruments. Those interested can mail them or bring them to the store located at 657 N. Pace Boulevard.

“If people want to get under their beds and pull out that old trumpet or flute or guitar or whatever they have, we take instruments, we’re happy to take them,” DeStafney said.

Madison Arnold can be reached at marnold@pnj.com and 850-435-8522.

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