With schools closed and young people doing distance learning at home, student musicians have more time each day to practice. If they are not, it may be because their instrument isn’t in the best shape. That can be frustrating to anyone. It can be an obstacle for a young person trying to develop proficiency as well as an individual sound. The chance to change that has become available.
The Friends of John Coltrane, Inc. has opened the 2020 Student Instrument Contest and is accepting entries now. This contest is a signature of the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival where for the past nine years students from North Carolina middle and high schools have received brand new instruments as prizes for writing a winning essay. In the essay, students explain what music means in their lives, which instrument they would like to win, and how a new instrument would help them achieve their goals. Winners are presented with their prizes on stage in front of the festival audience.
During the presentation one of the world-renowned artists performing at the festival speaks to the students, offering words of encouragement in their studies and advice for developing a career in music. Kenny G. headlined the 2016 Coltrane Jazzfest and spoke to an excited group of winners. One of the things he stressed was the overwhelming benefits of practice, even if it was for only 10 minutes a day.
To date almost 100 instruments have been awarded to aspiring student musicians at a retail value of over $135,000. The prizes are made possible by Bill Banks, Joe Williams, and KHS America, Inc., an instrument manufacturer, along with local sponsors.
This year students can choose to record themselves and upload a video as one of the three options to submit an entry. A written 100-250 word essay, typed, double spaced with a photo can be uploaded or mailed. Details about the contest and entry instructions are available on the Student Instrument Contest page.