Deacon learns play, then gives away instruments

Since the sixth grade, Rev. Mr. James King has shared his musical talents with others, be it through playing the piano, ukulele, recorder, guitar or other instruments he’s come to master. Now, he is sharing his musical instruments with Camden students through the Catholic Partnership Schools’ instrument drive, which aims to create music programs in its Catholic Schools in Camden and Pennsauken.

The Catholic Partnership School is collecting gently-used and working instruments for students in Camden (Holy Name, Sacred Heart, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral) and Pennsauken (St. Cecilia). When Rev. Mr. King, a transitional deacon at Infant Jesus Parish in Woodbury Heights and scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in May, learned of the drive he decided to help.

“The first instruments I received were given to me, and music really changed my life,” he said. “I wanted to provide that same opportunity, to students.”

The instruments Rev. Mr. King donated included three trombones, a trumpet, oboe, violin, euphonium, and flute.

His love for music began in the sixth grade, when he started taking piano lessons, and grew while he attended Highland High School in Blackwood, where he was part of the Highland Royal Tartan Marching Band, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and Indoor Percussion Ensemble. In these activities, he learned to play various instruments such as the trombone, euphonium, tuba, recorder, ukulele and bass. He also played in a brass quintet in high school, named “Canadian Bacon.”

At St. Charles Seminary in Overbrook, Pa., he lent his talents to a brass group and to the annual Christmas concerts.

Rev. Mr. King also spent time ministering in Camden, at St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral, and sees the need for music in the lives of Camden’s students, who struggle daily with poverty.

“I can’t think of a better outlet, a better learning tool, than music,” he noted.“Music is one of the truly international languages. Students can really connect with it.”

He still takes piano lessons and owns a trombone, ukuleles, recorders, and an acoustic bass guitar, all either given to him, or bought used.

Catholic Partnership Schools, whose mission is to strengthen and sustain the inner city Catholic schools of Camden, has partnered with Symphony in C, a professional training orchestra, and has received funding from the Domenica Foundation, to provide music teaching to students to all grades.

“The instrument drive is important because it allows people who love music and who’ve had the experience of making music to provide that opportunity to the next generation of children,” said Sister Karen Dietrich, SSJ, executive director of Catholic Partnership Schools.

“Nothing is cooler than making music. The music lessons and student performances that result from this effort will enable our boys and girls to experience that joy.”

The most needed instruments are strings, woodwinds and brass, as well as music stands, electric keyboards, amplifiers and PA systems. No more drums or guitars are needed.

To learn more about the program, to arrange a pick-up, or to find drop-off locations, call the Catholic Partnership Schools office at 856-339-0966, and ask for June Ertl or Lori Springer. All donated instruments are tax-deductible.

Categories: Catholic School News

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