By Noelle H. Lowery
Ryan Darling and his band Tripleshot have been playing music at various Marco Island venues for the last seven years, and they wanted to find a way to give back to the community that has supported them and their musical endeavors.
“I wanted to do something that would work with the audience and the community — interact with the crowd and give back to the community,” says Darling. “Music is a way to bring people together…When you are in a band, it is not just about yourself. Everything you do effects the other people in the band.”
His idea: Donate to the music program at a local school. He chose the music program at Marco Island Charter Middle School. It was a solid choice. While MICMS is among the smallest middle schools in Collier County, it also has the largest band program with approximately 230 students participating.
Darling’s goal will be realized Tuesday, May 20, during MICMS’s 2014 Spring Band Concert, when he will present the school’s music director, Martha Miller, with a tympani drum for the school. The drum was purchased with proceeds from 50-50 cash raffles and donations from Tripleshot, Old Marco Lodge, Old Marco Pub and Marco Island Moose Lodge. Each group donated $800 for a grand total of $3,200.
According to Darling, when he met with MICMS Principal George Abounader and Miller, he learned of the school’s long-time goal of purchasing a tympani drum for the music program. The drums come with a hefty price tag, though. At $5,000 each, the school simply could never afford to buy a tympani drum.
MICMS officials initially were overwhelmed by Darling’s efforts, thinking “how generous and thoughtful this community is, and their love for music and our school’s commitment to a music program for our youth makes for a great partnership,” notes Abounader.
To be sure, donations make a big difference to the bottom line of MICMS, which is a public charter school. “Our public charter school receives 2 percent less funding per student than the traditional public middle school,” Abounader explains. “It is difficult to provide a good educational program for all public schools in Florida with 100 percent funding, so receiving 2 percent less makes it more imperative for the community to support our excellence in education program for which we have become known.”
When Darling started telling Marco Islanders about his quest to get the school a drum, many of the venues where he plays jumped at the opportunity to hold the 50-50 raffles, and they even opened up their checkbooks. “I didn’t ask them to donate,” Darling explains. “I just told them what we were doing, and they wanted to get involved too.”
Old Marco Pub owner Tom Ackerson, who played the guitar when he was young, was definitely on board: “We are a music bar, and we wanted to help the kids out. When Ryan said he was going to do it, I said count me in. When I was a kid, I know I wished someone had given my school a couple of bucks toward my music education.”
It was a no-brainer for Ron Lanich of the Moose Lodge as well. “The Moose Lodge is a private fraternity, and we are about taking care of the kids and elderly and community service,” Lanich says. “Ryan plays at the lodge, and when he told us what he was doing, we asked how much money do you need and when can we get it to the kids.”
For the young musicians at MICMS, the new drum will expand their musical horizons both as a band and as individuals. “The drum will increase the bottom end of the band, giving it more balance and sounding more pleasing to the ear,” Abounader describes. “Also, when percussionists continue to take band in high school, they will be more well-rounded because in the absence of tympani drums, there was a void in their percussionist music education.”