Hungry for Music: "Creating Smiles One Instrument at a Time" | Reverb Gives

Hungry For Music

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.

Jeff Campbell

With so many unique missions, all revolving around music and music education, 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 spoke with Jeff Campbell, the Founder of Hungry for Music—a charity started in 1994 that provides music instruments to underserved children enrolled in school or after-school music programs in the United States and abroad. He talked with us about the organization's history, what kinds of programs it supports, and what you can do to get involved yourself.

Can you give some insight into the history of Hungry for Music, how it got started, and a bit about your journey with the cause?

The initial concept of Hungry for Music grew out of a class project at George Washington University when I was enrolled in a Non-Profit Management Certificate program there.

My concept was to produce a benefit concert for the homeless with street musicians and other local performers providing the entertainment. The name “Hungry for Music" came out of the idea of meeting with classmates. After two benefit concerts for the Coalition Against Homelessness, I decided I wanted to create a non-profit music charity for kids.

It’s been a grassroots effort that has organically grown into an outreach of over 1,000 music instruments per year donated to school and after-school music programs. This year, 2019, celebrates our 25th year and throughout that time, we have donated close to 13,000 instruments across 30 countries and every state except for Hawaii.

Can you talk a bit about those who work for and with Hungry for Music—teachers, instrument repairers, volunteers? What are some of their backgrounds and how did they get involved?

The volunteers find us on the internet, through word of mouth, and through events and partnerships. We have some very dedicated volunteers who have been with us for years, and we're always looking for folks to help us out with picking up, repairing, and distributing the instruments.

Our repair folks provide an integral role in our mission, getting the instruments in playing condition. Most instrument only need minor work, but sometimes the luthiers take on some challenging projects. We are blessed to have repair technicians and luthiers to keep up with the flow instruments that come through our organization.

The volunteers who pick up the instruments from drop-off sites and individuals keep the flow of instruments going. It can sometimes be a challenge to keep up with the multitude of donation offers, but we have a small paid staff that helps with operations management and distribution.

How about the youth? How do they get involved with Hungry for Music? Do any of them have prior music experience, or are most brand new to their instruments?

The experience of music instrument recipients vary. We primarily provide beginners with an opportunity to participate in band class, but we also provide advanced students with upgraded instruments.

The after-school music programs we find through research we do on our own, or they themselves apply. We are proud of helping some very innovative music programs around the country, including various El Sistema orchestra programs, the Intonation Music Workshop, and People’s Music School in Chicago, Rock to the Future in Philadelphia, Roots of Music In New Orleans, Young Musicians Foundation in Los Angeles, Gabriel Music Society in Detroit, Internal Creations in New York City, Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra, and many more.

We also support social service works. Several times a year, we receive music instrument requests from social workers with teen clients who would benefit from having a music instrument as an emotional outlet.

What's coming up for Hungry for Music this year?

On June 15, we will be featuring several of the after-school music programs that we support at our annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Music Instrument Drive and Showcase. This will be our fourth year of this event, which begins the week before the concert with a community music instrument drive. Hungry for Music’s Magic Music Bus Big Bertha is parked in front of the Hall, and donors can drop off their music instruments there.

We also have been partnering with D’Addario Foundation on a series of music instrument drives across the country in conjunction with Ace Hotel. The first partnered drive with D’Addario Foundation took place at their headquarters on Long Island, since we have held successful drives in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, while support music programs in each of those locations.

We will also be beginning another Magic Music Bus Tour in 2019 to last into 2020. The tour will encompass sixty city visits, with the goal of setting up Hungry for Music chapters. Our goal is simply to continue to increase the number of music instruments that we donate annually and spread the power and healing of music. To get involved with Hungry for Music, check out our website here.

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