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Impact Stories

Can a clarinet change

a life?


Can one clarinet really change a life?

Ask Abigail (Stone) Dalgarn or her mother, Marnie Stone, and they will say it can.

Abigail was a shy fifth grader at Lenihan Intermediate School in Marshalltown who rarely spoke out in class unless she had to.

Enter a clarinet that was provided to the family through the instrument lending library from the Marshalltown Youth Foundation and things changed for the better for Abigail. She was more outgoing and found her passion in band.

“I was shy and didn’t interact with people before,” Abigail said. “Band was really the place that I thrived and it broke me out of my shell.”

Her mother agrees.

“At the concert at the end of fifth grade, Abigail stood in front of the auditorium and performed a clarinet solo,” Marnie said. “I was so proud of her. Not only did she play the song well, but it was so exciting to see my shy little girl confidently performing in front of a crowd. It was definitely a turning point for her.”

Abigail went on to be named to several honor bands and was a three-time all-state band selection as she was one of the best high school clarinet players in the Iowa. Marnie said Abigail’s self-confidence soared and it spilled over into other aspects of her life.

“She smiled more, laughed more and was more willing to take on new challenges,” Marnie said. “She began to lose her shyness – she really ‘found her voice’ through playing her clarinet.”

Abigail graduated from Marshalltown High School in 2014. She is set to graduate from the University of Northern Iowa in May 2019 and plans to become a middle school teacher.

“I want to inspire kids and help everybody learn,” Abigail said.

She has continued to play the clarinet after high school as a member of the Marshalltown Municipal Band in recent years. Her mother continues to be appreciative of the MYF instrument lending library for providing her daughter that kick start she needed to become successful.

“I am very grateful that we were able to borrow an instrument from the MYF lending library,” Marnie said. “Without it, I know that Abigail would have had to miss out on joining band. That one clarinet changed the life of my daughter and has opened up new opportunities for her future. I encourage anyone that has an instrument they no longer need to donate it. You never know which student will use it to discover a love of music that will last them a lifetime.”

The Marshalltown Youth Foundation (MYF) – a new member of the United Way -- strives to help families get and keep kids involved in activities. It is based on studies showing that the #1 predictor of success after high school is participation in activities and the relationships involved in those activities. MYF works with Marshalltown Little League, Marshalltown Girls Softball, Marshalltown Area Soccer Club, Central Iowa Art Association, Marshalltown Community Theater, Marshalltown Community School District, Marshalltown Area Tumbling, Marshalltown Parks & Recreation and Marshalltown Football League to make the fees more affordable.

Anyone interested in learning more about MYF may call Carrie Barr, 641-750-2890 or inquire about vouchers at MICA at 6 S. 2nd Street, Parks & Recreation at 10 W. State Street, Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Child Abuse Prevention at 811 East Main Street.


Foundation helps families tap into musical talents

When Charlotte Santana grew up in Louisiana, she remembered having to wait two years to be in band as her mom bought a clarinet on layaway. Luckily, as a busy Marshalltown mom of six kids today, the Marshalltown Youth Foundation is making sure her kids don’t have to wait to be active musically and make those connections with their peers. Her oldest two children have thrived in music in Marshalltown Schools as the Marshalltown Youth Foundation (MYF) has provided instruments on loan at no cost.

MYF has been removing barriers so Marshalltown kids can participate in activities since 1996. “We know they gain so many lifelong benefits by having another caring adult in their lives, by learning the power of hard work and practice and of having other team or band members depending on them to do their best,” commented Carrie Barr, Musical Instrument Lending Library Chair.

“I think it’s invaluable,” Charlotte Santana said. “Any parent wants their kids to have access to the arts and sciences and keep that passion for learning.”

Jolcey Santana is a freshman at Marshalltown High School while her brother Ethen Santana is a seventh grader at Miller Middle School. Both have been able to master multiple instruments and have those experiences that have an impact on their overall learning. Jolcey has played the clarinet, oboe and cello and loves marching band the most.

“You become really close with each other and support each other,” Jolcey said of marching band.

Ethen has played the clarinet, oboe and tenor saxophone. He has been selected for two honor bands this school year and participated in a recent one in Ames. “It was really fun,” he said.

Charlotte said the family has one main income as she teaches at Marshalltown High School and her husband, David, is a stay at home dad. While expenses for the children can add up fast, the MYF has ensured she never has to say “no” to her children when they want to pursue their musical interests. The mother sees how her children reap the benefits of their participation in marching band, jazz band, orchestra and concert band.

“It’s building so much courage and so much confidence and those life skills,” Charlotte said. “I’ve seen them become more confident.” She said her younger children look up to the oldest two and now can’t wait for their chance to be on stage. The Marshalltown Youth Foundation has been there for her family and other families to allow youth to showcase that talent.
“Every kid has talents and this program is making sure the kids feel loved,” Charlotte said.

Those interested in the Marshalltown Youth Foundation can learn more by contacting Carrie Barr, 641-750-2890. Anyone who needs help paying for participation in children’s activities can inquire by calling Carrie or picking up a flyer at MICA. Donations of musical instruments and/or money are always welcome. Donations go straight to helping children participate. 

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