Students fundraise 24 ukuleles for Glenburn music program

By Emily Schmidt
University Communications Student Assistant

MINOT, N.D. – Over the course of the fall 2019 semester, freshman music students at Minot State University created their own community engagement project to solve a musical problem in the Minot area as part of their first-year experience class (FYE) “Music Student’s Survival Guide.” 

The project had three criteria: address a musical need, take place off campus, and involve a performance. Dianna Anderson, assistant music professor and professor of the FYE class, implemented it into the class with a purpose in mind.

“I designed this project to achieve optimal student ownership,” she said. “I feel strongly that if students determine what the project will be, communicate with the beneficiary, and do the performing and other work involved without me directing things, they have a deeper learning experience.”

Kyanne Derr, freshman psychology and elementary education major and Glenburn alumnus, agrees.

“It was cool to collaborate with different musicians and see different perspectives, like class A and class B or people from outside of North Dakota,” said Derr. “It was nice seeing everyone come together for a mutual problem that we could all understand. It was cool working with everyone, and everyone pulled through and completed their assigned rolls.”

Choosing what musical need was a lengthy collaborative process, but the students eventually selected raising money for the music program in Glenburn. Derr knew that they had been wanting to purchase ukuleles for a full class of students, so the class made that their monetary goal.

To raise the money, the Minot State students asked local businesses for donations for a silent auction and made baked goods for a bake sale, both to be held at a Glenburn music concert in November.  The results were surprising.

“I was really impressed that we got that much stuff together,” Derr said. “It was really cool seeing how many people came out for it, which we expected, but there were people in the community who hadn’t been to a music concert in a while and they found out we were doing a fundraiser so they came out specifically for that.”

The total money raised that night was $1,947, enough to purchase 24 ukuleles with some leftover to potentially invest in storage for them.

John Spitzer, the director of fifth and sixth grade band as well as all the ensembles for junior high and high school students in Glenburn, appreciates Minot State’s contribution.

“It was a great honor to be selected for this amazing project,” he said. “It allowed us to purchase something that has been on the wish list for a long time. I was overwhelmed by the amount of donations they secured and how much money was raised.”

On top of a successful night of fundraising, the college students performed for Glenburn music students in December. Some of the performances included a piano duet for four hands, a double bass solo, and a full-group Christmas music compilation.

“I know they really liked seeing college kids. When you’re an elementary student, that’s just so cool,” said Derr. “They really enjoyed the bass solo because a lot of them had never seen an upright bass before. I know I’ve had a couple questions if MSU was going to come back.”

In fact, the students liked the performance so much, they stayed inside and continued listening to the college students instead of going outside for recess.

Anderson enjoyed seeing this.

“I was especially pleased with the performance aspect of the project,” she said. “Seeing young music students from Glenburn watch our students perform with rapt attention was a highlight of the whole project.”

Since then, junior high students have performed with the ukuleles, and fifth and sixth grade students will get to use them this spring.

“They are going over very well,” said Spitzer. “Special thanks to Dr. Dianna Anderson and the FYE class for selecting us for this project. Not only did it give us the opportunity to purchase items that didn't fit in the budget, but it enhanced the connection between our students and Minot State University.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 02/20/20   

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