Flute players help aspiring musicians through service project

The Alpha Flute Trio made their second donation to VAC Executive Director March 30, 2012. Their last fundraiser will be on May 21, 2012, in the form of a studio recital. Photo by Aniqa Rahmen
Amidst the stressful roles of college applicant, club leaders and dedicated students, seniors Tina Wang and Leyna Craigmile are also avid musicians.
Unlike most other teenage band members, however, these seniors turn practice minutes into spare change – spare change that has amounted to more than $4,000.
This year, Wang and Craigmile formed the Alpha Flute Trio with Hickman High School senior Allison Wigger. The three study under local flute teacher Lisa Thill Franck, who teaches more than 30 students total. But they are her only seniors, and Thill Franck has helped them organize a yearlong fundraiser for the Youth Enrichment Fund at the Voluntary Action Center as part of their yearlong senior project.
“We’re involved in extracurricular activities, and we know how hard it would be if we weren’t able to afford them,” Craigmile said. “We want kids to have the same experiences.”
Some of these costs include paying for marching shoes, shorts and t-shirts, weekly private flute lessons and entrance fees for district and state level competitions. The members of the trio realized how prominent a role money played in their participation in these activities.
So far the trio has raised money through a studio-wide Flute-a-thon, the Alpha Flute Trio’s first fundraiser, and a Practice-a-thon. The group’s first event was a holiday concert followed by a lock-in at the Evangelical Free Church in Columbia, which donated its facilities “in support of the cause,” Thill Franck said. Throughout the night, the flutists participated in games, activities and mini-lessons featuring their flutes, such as an adaptation of “Duck, Duck, Goose” called “Flute, Flute, Piccolo.”
“Most of us didn’t stay up all night,” Wigger said. “Actually, I think Lisa’s four year old daughter was the most energetic.”
Next, the trio asked the studio’s musicians to record how much they practiced for a month and to find sponsors.
The three wanted to help the community with the money the studio had raised, but they especially wanted to help others experience the joy of music, Craigmile said. They chose to donate to the Youth Enrichment Fund at the VAC, which helps local youth pay for extracurricular activities, such as athletics or lessons for music, dance and art.
“This enrichment fund is basically a fund set up to help young people do some things of an extracurricular nature that they might not be able to afford otherwise,” said Nick Foster, Executive Director of the VAC. “It’s really, really cool. It’s a lot more fun to write a check for somebody to get a football uniform so they can play football than it is to write a check for a driver’s license. The driver’s license is important. It’s just kind of fun to write the other thing.”
Last month the trio made its second donation to the VAC, which also receives money from the city and county, churches and individuals. But Foster called the donation particularly “inspirational” because of how driven the three have been to help aspiring musicians with less fortunate financial situations.
“This really came at their initiative, and they have a personal connection to how this money will be used,” Foster said. “They know the joy of music, and they want that music to be experienced by others and recognize that for some there are barriers, and sometimes those are financial.”
In less than a month, on Monday, May 21, the trio will hold its final event for the year, a recital at which the members will again “pass the plate” for donations. The recital will feature the three seniors, but will also incorporate all the members of the studio, including sixth graders who have only played for a year. It will once again be at the Evangelical Free Church.
This recital will be the culmination of the year’s fundraising efforts, Craigmile said, but Thill Franck added that it will also feature their exceptional musicianship.
“They really are some of the top players in the state of Missouri,” Thill Frank said. “The music that they’re playing is really high-end stuff.”
By Nomin-Erdene Jagdagdorj