The Music Room program brings instruments to those in need

Updated 2/15/2011 11:02 AM

Without access to an instrument, learning to play music is a pipe dream for many disadvantaged kids. But The Music Room is breaking down that barrier through its Gear Shift program.

In just a little over a year, the program of owners Carol Cook and John Giovannoni has placed more than 40 unwanted instruments into the hands of aspiring disadvantaged musicians, who might otherwise not have the chance to play.

So far, most donations have gone to Clearbrook, an organization devoted to enhancing the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities.

This year The Music Room is expanding the program by providing instruments to the Palatine Opportunity Center and Lutherbrook Child and Adolescent Center in Addison. Palatine Opportunity Center serves hundreds of disadvantaged adults and youths in Palatine, while Lutherbrook is a specialized residential center for children and adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral difficulties.

With the help of instrument donations from The Music Room, Palatine Opportunity Center will offer Music Education Empowering the Understanding of Potential (Meetup), an after-school program that provides disadvantaged youths an opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Each student will be paired with a high school student mentor. Sixteen students are registered for the new program.

"We are trying to help students see what their opportunities are in music," said Rachel Fulara, a Loyola graduate student volunteer who oversees the program.

At Lutherbrook, donated guitars were Christmas gifts for boys between 10 and 14 years old who expressed interest in music.

"Our youth have often struggled with more traditional forms of communication; at Lutherbrook we have found that the expressive therapies are invaluable in helping youth give voice to their experiences. We appreciate The Music Room's generosity in helping us to expand these opportunities," said Brent Diers, executive director at Lutherbrook.

"We're thrilled at how the community has responded to this program," said Giovannoni. "People store these instruments in their garages and basements and don't really know what to do with them. Our Gear Shift program is a great way to put the instruments to use and give back to the community," added Giovannoni.

The Music Room donates its time and expertise to bring the donated instruments back to good working condition, utilizing its in-house instrument repair capabilities.

Instrument donations can be dropped off at The Music Room any time during store hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. -- 5 p.m. The Music Room is located at 26 N. Brockway St., in downtown Palatine.

Call (847) 934-5440 for more information or visit

The Music Room is a full-service facility offering music instruction, instrument rental, instrument repair and sales. From humble beginnings in a Palatine store front 15 years ago, The Music Room has evolved and grown to a 10,000-square-foot facility accommodating more than 500 students per week and a full line of musical instruments in an award-winning retail setting.

Twenty-five teachers provide specialized instruction for a wide variety of instruments in state-of-the-art soundproof studios. A complete lineup of high quality guitars, band instruments and amplification products are offered at competitive prices along with personalized professional attention in a boutique-like setting. The Music Room has been recognized as an award-winning music retailer.

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