How finding old instruments in a local school basement turned into scholarships for student musicians

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By Samar Mustafa and Kimberly Pope

IMG_0633Sullivan High School and Rogers Park community members provide students with private music lessons through Flatts & Sharpe Scholarship for the second year in a row.

The program was started by Andrew McGuire, music teacher at Sullivan, Chris Bell, owner of Flatts & Sharpe Music Company at 6749 N. Sheridan Road, and the Rogers Park Builder’s Group.

Five years ago, Bell and McGuire discussed providing high-quality music experiences for students in the neighborhood. McGuire said students in Rogers Park schools can’t afford the same lessons as students whose family live and go to school in Evanston or Skokie.

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Three years ago McGuire contacted Mike Glasser, of the Rogers Park Builder’s Group, about the abandoned music instruments in the basement at Sullivan. McGuire brought these instruments to a store that fixes instruments and told Glasser how much it would be to fix them.

After talking with McGuire, Glasser said the RPBG would provide $5,000 to start the process of creating the Flatts & Sharpe Scholarship.

The scholarship program gives the students half hour lessons once or twice a week. McGuire said students do independent work to learn more on their own with monthly check-ups to see where the students are in their progress. McGuire is in charge of letting students know when they are on track or if they need more improvement in their work.

“He is just so committed to his kids and has the heart and energy and passion,” Glasser said. “Without him, this would not happen.”

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One of McGuire’s high-performing students is Justine Dagmante, a vocalist. McGuire said Dagmante receives vocal lesson at the program. McGuire said that since she has been sitting at a piano by herself and figuring out her own music she is singing music a freshman in college would sing.

Some of Dagmante’s accomplishments are scoring second highest in the citywide ensemble competition. McGuire said she has improved a lot due to her singing in choir and participating rock band shows.

“These kids are now being looked at from colleges and now have more opportunities,” Glasser said.

IMG_0641The students are rising seniors and some that graduated have received scholarships and college level music lessons.

Apart from running the Flatts & Sharpe Scholarship, McGuire also runs the Rock Camp program, which has been running for four years. Students who are in the Flatts & Sharpe program participate in the Rock Camp.

McGuire said he wants to continue the Flatts & Sharpe Scholarship as long as students want to continue to do it. He said he doesn’t want to have a set plan of how long the program will continue for because that would mean that something would have to change and it might not be positive.

“The lessons are served to give technical skills to teach musicians,” McGuire said.“We have a community that values the art that values the education that values your individual value.”

As students receive support from their teachers, store owners, funders and community members they are given opportunities to pursue musical paths.

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