If you keep up with the Daviess County Public Library, you’ve probably noticed that our library staff is constantly trying new programs and events. Their most recent endeavor, an instrument loaning program called “Stay Tuned!,” seems to have really struck a chord.
Now that Stay Tuned! is officially up and running, DCPL card holders can check out a musical instrument and take it home for up to four weeks. Library Associate Specialist Jarrod McCarty said almost all of the 20 instruments collected for Stay Tuned! were checked out within the first 20 minutes at the launch event, which was held on August 15th.
Larry Kirk, owner of the Miller House Restaurant and avid music fan, approached the library with the idea after a chance conversation with John Catt, who started an instrument loaning program in Colorado through his organization Blue Star Connection. Thanks to that conversation, Blue Star Connection has generously donated guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos and keyboards to DCPL for Stay Tuned!.
“I was really impressed that John Catt thought about where we were regionally and what kinds of musical styles might be popular in our area. He sent mandolins and banjos, so he nailed it,” McCarty said. The library is continuing to accept donated instruments so the program can continue to grow. They would really like to have some orchestra instruments to add to their catalogue of instruments.
Owensboro Living contacted John Catt to get the story behind Stay Tuned!.
Blue Star Connection (BSC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing music into the lives of children and young adults who are fighting cancer and other life-challenging situations. To support their work, Blue Star hosts fundraisers and benefit concerts in many cities around the world.
“We focus on giving instruments to Children’s Hospitals that treat children through music therapy,” Catt eplained, which is a practice John started after giving a guitar to a teenage cancer patient who showed improvement after just a few weeks of playing guitar.
To acquire more instruments, John simply put out a plea to his hometown in Colorado. “I just put it out there that if anyone had instruments not being used, I would put them to good use,” Catt explained. Soon, instruments started showing up.
Then one day, Catt had a moment of inspiration as he happened to be driving by his local library on the way home from work. “I asked if we could put guitars in there for kids to check out. The librarian thought it over for a day and said, ‘Yeah, let’s try it,’” Catt said.
He called the new program “Check out the Music.” Before long, all five area libraries implemented the program. “Next thing you know, we’re teaching 100 kids guitar at five different libraries,” Catt said. “You’d see local guitar players teaching 12 kids guitar on a Thursday night.”
These days, John stays very busy bringing musical instruments to sick and special needs kids through Blue Star Connection and therefore hasn’t had much time to focus on spreading the Check Out the Music model outside Colorado.
That’s where Larry Kirk stepped in.
John says Larry loved the idea and thought it could work in Owensboro. John saw it as “another way to expose kids to music through loaning instruments, so I do see it as an extension of the mission of Blue Star.
“What I love about it is it’s a trial period for kids – and their families – to try out the instrument and see if it’s going to fit without the financial obligation of buying one. I see it flourishing in Owensboro like it did here in Colorado,” John continued. “I think people in the community will keep the instruments coming.”
Catt’s ultimate dream is that one of these library kids will go on to be a famous musician and be able to say that the first instrument they ever played was checked out from their local library.
Now that dream could be realized through someone in Owensboro, too.
For more information about Stay Tuned!, or any other program at the library, visit www.dcplibrary.org or Facebook.
For more information about Blue Star Connection, visit bluestarconnection.org.