At the onset of COVID-19, when students needed to practice playing music from home and could no longer share instruments due to school closures and health concerns, federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding helped PGCPS pivot through a $2.1 million investment in 3,200 new instruments for schools!
During a challenging time, the additional instruments allowed students to have their own dedicated instruments for home practice and now, for school performances.
“This especially benefited students who play larger instruments such as cellos, string basses and tubas, who would not have been able to access the larger instruments while learning from home,” said PGCPS Instrumental Music Supervisor Lionel Harrell.
ESSER funding has allowed PGCPS to begin replacing an aging inventory of instruments to provide more access to students, as the district manages an increase in student requests for school-provided instruments over families renting on their own. More than half of the district's 12,000 instrument inventory is over 16 years old, with some instruments dating back to the 1950s.
“With current funding, the Instrumental Music Department has been able to retire instruments students were using that are well beyond suggested life expectancy as well provide additional or upgraded instruments to schools for students use,” Harrell said.
Additionally, ESSER funds allowed the Vocal Music team to provide educators with Collabra Music, an online platform where teachers can share real-time feedback on student performances — helpful with auditions for high school music programs, college auditions, and preparation for music assessments.