Music students get their hardware for a song

Filed by Lisa Roberson December 7th, 2009

ELYRIA — Inside a back room at Steve Smith’s North Ridge Road business, Park and Pawn, musical instruments are sometimes easy to find.

They are there because down-on-their-luck customers trade them in for cash, or parents of children long removed from the school band want to clear out their closets. They hang from rafters and sit on shelves, waiting for someone to take them home and breathe new life into them.

Typically, their exit from the store is made possible because of a cash transaction, but last week each one — a flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin and bass guitar — was carried out of the stores in the arms of Elyria Schools teacher Mark Wainwright.

That’s because Smith donated the instruments to the district’s music program in conjunction with the National Pawnbrokers Association Musical Instrument Gift Day.

The program is designed to put musical instruments into the hands of children who need them the most. In Elyria, that describes nearly everyone in the music program, Wainwright said.

“I can’t even begin to calculate how many children rent instruments from us,” he said. “We always have someone who needs an instrument.”

Wainwright is the district’s lead instrumental music teacher and divides his time between Westwood Middle School and Elyria High School. He said the instruments will be sent to Driscol’s Music Co. in Lorain for refurbishing and tuning. Each instrument is a quality music piece but has seen better days.

“These are good, name-brand, quality instruments that if you put some work into them, you will have a good instrument,” Wainwright said.

Smith said he gets lots of instruments at his pawn shop. He normally sells them as is or the original owners buy them back weeks after dropping them off for a loan. However, as soon as he heard about the Musical Instrument Gift Day, he began setting the instruments to the side for donation.

“I plan to make this a continuing project of mine,” he said. “This will be good for Elyria Schools and Lorain (Schools). I feel as if I have to help both because I sort of straddle the line here between the two cities.”

North Ridge Road, where Smith’s business is located, is spilt between Elyria and Lorain with the south side of the street being in Elyria proper and the north side being in Lorain proper. Read the full article…