NEWS: Surrender The Fender | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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As the wife of a musician, I can attest to just how many instruments the average muso picks up in his or her lifetime. My house is littered with strange noisy doodads which are often used once for that special ‘couldn’t find it anywhere else’ sound, before being discarded in favour of the latest plug-in. While many of these bits and bobs are likely to utterly confound a young musician new to music making (has anyone actually used one of those percussive wooden frogs?), I’m willing to bet they’d be pretty interested if they were given access to one of the broken guitars, knackered drums or rusty saxophone that clutter many a musician’s studio and practice room.

Which is why Tees Music Alliance and Tees Valley Music Service’s new initiative is such a winner. Cannily titled Surrender The Fender, they aim to get unloved and unwanted musical instruments into the hands of young people who may not have access to them.

TMA’s community projects coordinator Hana Harrison explains: “We occasionally get offered a guitar here or a keyboard there and it struck us that by making a coordinated effort, we might be able to take more unwanted equipment off people’s hands or out of their cupboards. Instead of these items gathering dust, we’d like to take donations, get them checked over and pass them on to new owners.”

TMA chief executive Paul Burns adds: “The pandemic shone a light on an issue that we’ve known of for some time, that young people with a gift for performing often miss out on developing their talent further because they don’t actually own an instrument. As we’ve slipped from a health crisis into a financial one, getting hold of an instrument slips further away from some young people. Being in a band or playing solo is a great way to express your creativity and expand your social circle; and we think that the ability to access musical instruments is something that all young people should have.”

If you’ve got an unwanted instrument give TMA a shout at [email protected] and someone will either collect or arrange a time to drop items off, give them a bit of TLC and ensure they get into the hands of budding young musicians in the region. And, if you’re a musician looking for a kickstart to your musical dreams, project partners Tees Valley Music Service can refer you, or you can contact TMA directly.

Now, I’m off to dig around in that forgotten instruments cupboard…

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