Recycled Tunes and the Gasparilla Music Festival are a harmonious fusion of music, sustainability, and giving back. The festival not only celebrates the power of live music but also nurtures a greener and better tomorrow by giving old instruments a new lease on life and local kids an introduction to the magic of making music.
It’s all made possible by the simple purchase of a ticket to GMF and community partnerships. We caught up with Tad Denham, the Recycled Tunes ambassador to learn more about this program and how it is making a difference in the lives of children in Tampa Bay.
Tad, for those who are new to Tampa Bay and those just learning about Recycled Tunes, can you tell us more about the non-profit organization.
Denham: Recycled Tunes is a program of the Gasparilla Music Foundation which puts music instruments in the hands of students in local schools. We do this by working primarily with Title I elementary music teachers to identify needs for their classrooms. Support may come from purchasing new instruments or repairing broken instruments.
We also conduct music instrument drives where the community can donate instruments that we will refurbish and provide to school music programs. We also accept instrument donations from individuals in the community throughout the year.
Tell us about the connection with local schools and teachers and how Recycled Tunes has supported local students.
Denham: Recycled Tunes works closely with local music teachers to support their music education programs. Teachers can make specific requests for new instruments or repairs through our website. We also send newsletters to music teachers that highlights available donated instruments that they can select for their music program.
Why is music education so important for children?
Denham: In addition to the pure enjoyment of music, participating in music programs and playing an instrument has many other benefits in the development of students. These benefits may include improved motivation, self-confidence and overall achievement. Additionally, music education has been shown to improve recall and retention of verbal information, advances math achievement, boosts reading and English language arts skills and increases average SAT scores
Can you give us a ‘by the numbers’ list–like how many instruments have been donated, how many students have benefited and so on?
Denham: In 2022, over 47 Title 1 schools in the Hillsborough County have been supported by the organization with over 400 instruments donated and countless repairs and accessories provided.
That’s amazing! What is the connection between the Gasparilla Music Festival and Recycled Tunes?
Denham: Gasparilla Music Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2011 that produces the Gasparilla Music Festival. The foundation works year-round to support music education through the Recycled Tunes program.
How can families get involved/donate?
Denham: Families can support Recycled Tunes by donating musical instruments through our website, www.recycledtunesflorida.com where they can also provide monetary contributions.
Can parents request a donated instrument for their child?
Denham: Recycled Tunes works primarily through music teachers to support music education and typically doesn’t provide musical instruments to individual students.
Anything else you want to add?
Denham: In 2022, the foundation and Recycled Tunes program were proud to have been awarded the Exemplary Model Music Project Award from the Florida Music Education Association and the Encore Award from the Hillsborough County Elementary Music Educators Council which recognizes outstanding organizations supporting music education in the county.
Want to support Recycled Tunes? Attend the Gasparilla Music Festival on April 29-30, 2023 at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa!