Instruments for Africa

Donating hundreds of instruments to schools in need across Africa

The D’Addario Foundation has provided in-kind product donations to Instruments for Africa since 2015. The organization collects musical instruments of all kinds, stands, accessories, sheet music, and instructional material, then evaluates and services the donations before distributing them to students and schools in need across Africa.

“I’d like to take a moment to personally thank everyone at The D’Addario Foundation for the several generous product donations you have donated to our project. We recently returned from our first trip to Ghana where we distributed over 250 instruments and another 300 recorders among thirteen schools and the Ghanaian National Orchestra, and I can’t tell you how pleased I was to add vast amounts of reeds and strings to these donations. A few years ago I visited a school in Zambia that was in possession of just two reeds for their pair of clarinets that the students had been sharing for more than ten years; so you see how desperate it can get. I left them with two boxes of your donated Rico reeds, which got a heck of a joyous response!”

– Todd Snelgrove, Founder

Here is an update from Instrument for Africa’s founder on their most recent trip to Ghana:

“I am pleased to report that Instruments For Africa has returned from our very successful, first-ever trip to Ghana, where we delivered instruments to fourteen schools and institutions.

Our first stop was the School For The Blind in Akropong, about fifty kilometres north of the capital city of Accra. Just before we departed Canada we started a last-minute funding drive for this school and we raised enough funds to purchase 200 recorders, to which we added a donated keyboard, all of it brought to Ghana in our checked luggage.

With two dozen of the school’s four hundred students gathered around I officially handed over the donation to the Headmistress, but I couldn’t resist actually handing some the brand-new recorders out to the smiling students who pressed in excitedly with their hands extended. Soon the grassy square was a beautiful cacophonic blur of happy random notes and whistles, but in no time at all snatches of real, thoughtful music began to emerge from the din.

After the handover presentation we walked to the school’s sparse music room where several students took their places at two keyboards, a drum kit and several microphones and we were treated to fifteen minutes of wonderful, inspiring music. Clearly these kids will make great use of the instruments we left with them!

After the inevitable yet unfortunate delays that we always seem to encounter, our 2,700lb shipment of nearly 200 instruments, more than 600 music books, and countless accessories was finally released from customs. Everything was rushed to the Accra Senior Girls High School where we unloaded the gear into the school’s auditorium and sorted it into carefully pre-selected piles.

In a stroke of efficiency, the Ministry of Education had arranged for all the schools to come to the auditorium where the donations could be officially handed over and dispersed all at once. At the appointed time hundred of students, music teachers, headmasters, and Ministry officials crowded into the large hall and collectively received their instruments.

In all we donated two concert bands, a violin group, three pop bands, two marching bands, two guitar groups, and three collections of recorders to the following schools: Accra Academy, Accra Girls Senior High School, Accra High School, Achimota School, Akropong School For The Blind, Bethel Bridge International School, Bishop Girls School, Nungua Senior High School, O’Reilly Senior High School, Our Lady Of Holy Cross School, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Tema Secondary School, and West Africa Senior High School.

We spent our brief remaining time visiting as many schools as we could, and though we weren’t able to visit all of the donees we were very happy to see how engaged the music programs were in the institutions we did manage to tour. We hope to be back soon for a follow-up trip when we will be sure to visit all thirteen schools.

Shortly after we arrived in Ghana we had dropped in unannounced at the National Theatre and found the members of the National Orchestra in the middle of rehearsal. We introduced ourselves to Isaac Annoh, the orchestra’s longtime conductor. It was clear that the orchestra’s modest instrument collection was in dire need of upgrading; indeed, some of the high schools we were donating to would soon be better equipped than the country’s national orchestra!

More importantly, Mr. Annoh told us that if he could get his hands on some half- and quarter-sized violins he would be able to realize his dream of starting a youth orchestra. His enthusiasm was palpable; he would have the more talented students in Accra bussed to the National Theatre several times a week where they could be mentored by current orchestra members.

Inspired, (and with the blessing of Ghana’s Ministry of Education) we skimmed a few things from our other donations and created an extra instrument pile consisting of five junior-sized violins, a ‘cello, three flutes and a clarinet, a French horn, a trombone and four trumpets, a large stack of scores and theory books, plus a huge supply of reeds courtesy of The D’Addario Foundation. In the end we almost doubled the orchestra’s instrument collection, much to the thrill of Mr. Annoh.

Though the core of our organization consists just of myself and my wife Heather, any success Instruments For Africa generates is the result of the work and generosity of hundreds of people. We would very much like to humbly thank everyone who helped to make this delivery another such success, starting with High Commissioner Otoo and his Deputy Minister Mr. Johnson at the Ghana High Commission in Ottawa, both of whom were instrumental in clearing the path for this shipment.

On the ground in Accra we received the help of many people, but none more than the Director General of Administration at the Ministry of Education Mrs. Asamoah and her staff, who provided transportation, advice, support, and information at every turn, and they deserve much thanks for all of their patient assistance. We’d also like to thank our good friends at Musicare back home in Ottawa, who serviced all of the band instruments that came through our door and donated several of their own, and also Dave Skippen for working so hard repairing all of our stringed instruments.

We’d like to thank The D’Addario Foundation who donated countless boxes of reeds and strings that will keep the instruments in playable condition for years to come, and we would also like to thank both Sennheiser and the Ernest E. Guertin Foundation for their financial support. Instruments For Africa would further like to thank Danielle and everyone at Metro Music for their endless assistance and we’d also like to thank the staff at both Lauzon Music and Spaceman Music.

But most importantly, Heather and I would like to thank all of the individuals who kindly and generously donated their own, well-loved instruments and music books for the children in Africa. Every bit of help big and small has added up to great things, and though the impact of your gift can never be measured I can promise you that the impact is very real. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Thank you all so very much.”

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