By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – An initiative to get every student in the state access to music instruction and instruments recently gave out $229,100 to 24 different organizations, Take Note Colorado announced Friday it will give out another $150,000 in grants. Support from local musicians has been a key part of the approach with Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers becoming the latest to join the program as its new co-chair.

Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers (credit: CBS)

“I found really quickly that there’s something about it that I felt like I was finally good at something and that gave me a sense of pride,” Schultz, the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Colorado band said on Friday. “Music has always been that and I’m glad to be a part of getting instruments and having access to these instruments for these kids around the state of Colorado.”

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Joined by Gov. Jared Polis and the chair of the board of directors for Take Note Colorado, Walt DeHaven, they announced the new round of funding open to community organizations (DeHaven is also the general manager of CBS4). These groups have been essential in keeping music in the lives of children during the pandemic. The renewed support comes as schools prepare for in-person learning to resume in the weeks ahead.

“There’s so many reasons for that, the social, emotional part, the academic part, but exposure to music and the arts is also a point of that,” Polis said of in-person learning. “Where it involves equipment and instruction and collaboration, it’s been very, very difficult for people in a remote setting.”

When Take Note Colorado launched in 2017 it worked with artists and school districts to meet students on campus, organizers have since been able to work with children at libraries and now remotely.

Walt DeHaven (credit: CBS)

“Getting kids in their neighborhoods, not only where they’re learning music but where they eat and thrive with their families gets us closer to that connection that we’re looking to achieve,” DeHaven said at the event. “We’ve had to pivot in various times and as we’re all saying I think, we’re looking forward to the days when we’re able to get back out and hear music.”

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Ticket sales from shows in Colorado helped to fund Take Note as a portion of sales went to the nonprofit. Grants will continue into the summer and concerts coming back after the pandemic will help to bring more money into the cause beyond that. While remote technology has allowed students to connect with artists in situations where they may not be able to meet otherwise, leaders are eager to see everyone together in person again.

“Although the pandemic has given us a lot of challenges, it’s given us opportunities as well,” DeHaven said. “It’s been especially tough for kids to get out of their houses and to really get into the arts and get into music like they have in the past.”

(credit: CBS)

Polis added that the nonprofit relies on the talent of local musicians and he looks forward to showcasing the range of artists who call Colorado home as the state moves beyond the pandemic. He follows his predecessor in advocating for this cause, Sen. John Hickenlooper launched Take Note Colorado while he was governor. Adding Schultz as a leader for the initiative also keeps the momentum when it started with Isaac Slade of The Fray as the founding co-chair. The message remains the same about the benefits of bringing music to students earlier in life.

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“Music is often overlooked as an outlet, as a way to get through hard times like these or early adulthood,” Schultz said. “Get people involved in music at an early age so that it’s not so formalized and intimidating to them.”

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LINK: Take Note Colorado

Shawn Chitnis