The Leerorkrest: Bringing Music Education Back to Amsterdam | Reverb Gives

Reverb Gives provides students, teachers, and leaders of music programs with the instruments that they need, directly from the Reverb marketplace. Since its launch, Reverb Gives has had the opportunity to help support a variety of remarkable organizations committed to making the world a more musical place, and we wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight some of these organizations, detailing their cause and highlighting the great work that they’re doing with music.

Today, we’re featuring The Leerorkest (Learning Orchestra), which was founded in 2005 to create nurturing environments for children to grow, especially in areas where kids are less fortunate in Amsterdam. Currently, there are more than 30 Leerorkest programs in Amsterdam schools in all corners of the city, and about 10 percent of primary schools in the metropolitan area participate. With the help of their partners and generous donors, the program has helped remind the city of the importance of music education since its inception.

For over a decade, the organization has been providing instruments to students in Amsterdam and helping schools create orchestras. The Leerorkest has been able to loan instruments to thousands of students and create 32 orchestras in 20 different schools, and the numbers are only growing.

In fact, In order to keep up with the new demand for instruments, the organization opened the Instrument depot in 2014—a rental service to make it easier for students to rent instruments, and patrons to donate equipment. At the moment, the depot has three fully-equipped workshops for woodwind, brass, percussion, and stringed instruments, as well as a classroom, an administrative office, and two stores.

“For me, Leerorkest is a very inspiring and innovative organization,” says Alice Ferguson, Director of Public Relations for Leerorkest. “Being able to contribute in a positive way and working together with many creative and social partners makes the Leerorkest an exciting and fulfilling workplace for me.”

Recently, the organization has been expanding its concerts and reach within Amsterdam and performed at one of the most prestigious venues in the city, Het Concertgebouw, accompanied by famous Dutch harpist Remy Van Kesteren. According to Ferguson, the venue was packed with supporters of the program, and the children loved the experience.

“Many celebrities, representatives of the Amsterdam City Council, and lots of parents were present,” says Ferguson. “Two TV channels were shooting documentaries. There was such a great vibe in the place—it was filled with energy to the roof. The kids had a great concert, and they enjoyed themselves so much, and they were so proud. That is what we want to achieve: Children being strong and happy because of playing music.”

Looking forward, Leerorkrest hopes to move into new schools and help The Netherlands become the artistic education hub that they know it can be. With so much growth and regional praise, the organization has had an easy time forming relationships with schools, teachers, and parents, which makes the integration process into new schools much easier.

“[We] hope to spread our wings throughout the whole Netherlands,” Ferguson explains. “Amsterdam is already a stronghold for music education for children in 'Learning Orchestras.' We want to inspire many more music education initiatives throughout the country, to collaborate with schools and provide the opportunity for every child to learn how to play an instrument, and reap the fruits of making music together—in a musical sense but also for their whole personal development.”

With their Reverb Gives grant, Leerorkest plans to buy trumpets and horns for the children’s orchestras, and also stock up on spare parts for different instruments for back-to-school maintenance as many instruments need maintenance or repair before school kicks off in the fall.

To learn more about Leerorkest, or to make a donation, click here.

To learn more about Reverb Gives, including how the program works, what organizations the initiative has supported, or how to apply for a grant, visit the Reverb Gives website. Want to learn more about how we've helped individual groups? Check out our Reverb Gives interview series here.

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