“If a Thousand Clarinets” Helps Young Music Enthusiasts

5. květen 2022

On Friday 29 April, Czech Radio Radiožurnál together with Czech Radio Foundation launched a non-financial donation campaign titled “If a Thousand Clarinets”. The campaign is to help musical children from families who cannot afford to buy a musical instrument.

Through its platform, www.kdybytisicklarinetu.cz, the campaign connects donors with recipients similarly to campaign “Ježíškova vnoučata” (Santa's Grandchildren) or “Pomáhejte s námi Moravě” (Let’s Help Moravia). Schoolteachers enter the individual requests, while manufacturers, sellers and individual donors of musical instruments enter their offers. The goal of the campaign is to allow all children irrespective of their financial and social background to pursue their hobbies. The patrons of the campaign to support young music enthusiasts are Jiří Suchý, Magdalena Kožená and Pavel Šporcl. The initiative is further promoted by artists such as Michal Ambrož, David Koller or Jaroslav Svěcený.

“At first, we had this idea to focus on children of refugees from Ukraine, so that they won’t have to abandon their favourite activities because of the situation. But then we thought it would be fair to help all children from disadvantaged families without differentiating between them,” says Radiožurnál presenter Vladimír Kroc who initiated the campaign. He also invented the name of the campaign – “If a Thousand Clarinets”, derived from eponymous theatre play on a pacifistic theme. The author of the famous play, Jiří Suchý, agreed unflinchingly. “I’m so happy I can be useful besides hopping on the stage.” 

Platform www.kdybytisicklarinetu.cz can be used by teachers not only from art schools, but also from other schools of all stages of education – kindergartens, elementary schools, high schools or universities. The teachers enter the requested instrument and the application matches the request with an offer. “Requests entered directly by schools help us prevent any potential abuse. This way, moreover, we will not omit children and students who were not accepted in an art school due to there being too many applicants and who have a private teacher. By the way, private tutoring can also be offered through our platform either by donors who pay for the lessons or by volunteers who teach for free,” says Gabriela Drastichová, Director of Czech Radio Foundation.

The “If a Thousand Clarinets” initiative is not limited in terms of time. It is meant to support all children who love music but their families cannot afford to buy them a musical instrument or pay a music teacher. The donors may offer either a new musical instrument or a used one to be given a second life. Surely, even such a specific instrument as Ukrainian bandura will find its donors. The project is based on the key role of music teachers from art schools who know their little musicians and are able to identify the need and specify the requested musical instrument.

“When I was in the kindergarten, I admired the teacher for how she played the piano. We didn’t have a piano at home, so I tried to mimic her by tapping my fingers on the grid of the gas heater. My parents sympathized with my passion and used the money they had been saving for a car to buy me a piano instead so that I could play for real. But not every parent can do such a wonderful thing for their child. And for these cases, we have the ‘If a Thousand Clarinets’ project, which will give a chance to unused musical instruments to resonate and delight a little musician and his or her family,” says patron of the project, Magdalena Kožená, a mezzo soprano who, through the manifold activities of her own foundation supports and promotes the unique system of elementary art schools.

“Music is an international language and a tool for mutual understanding,” says Ondřej Suchan, Radiožurnál Chief Editor and Director of Czech Radio News and Public Affairs Department. “I am therefore very glad we can extend help not only to children from Ukraine but also to all children from disadvantaged families. I hope I can hint that we are about to prepare a similar campaign for sports gear,” adds he.

The campaign was officially launched during a concert by the BBB radio band held on the Cargo Gallery art boat. The BBB band will use the proceeds from the event for buying musical instruments, which will be the first to be offered in the project.

The partners of the “If a Thousand Clarinets” initiative are Magdalena Kožená Foundation, the Association of Elementary Art Schools of the Czech Republic and the Association of Manufacturers of Musical Instruments.

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