The Kids Instrument Lending Library was the brainchild of Darrell Johnston, past CBA Treasurer, who had a great love for Bluegrass Music and was deeply passionate about children learning to play Bluegrass Music. His idea for this program began when he learned about one young girls’ desire and need for a fiddle. Without telling anyone, Darrell took money out of his own pocket and bought this young girl a fiddle, thus bringing about the idea to create a Kids Instrument Lending Library so that children would have the opportunity to play an instrument even if they could not afford one and families with several children would have the opportunity to have all their children play an instrument without the prohibitive cost of buying an instrument for each child. He felt strongly that when you put an instrument into the hands of a child and give them the opportunity to play, they will.

The premise was not to “rent” the instrument but to “loan” the instrument. In this way, a child could “try out” an instrument and it also offered the opportunity to trade the instrument in for a larger one as the child grows (as in a fiddle) or trade the instrument in for a better quality instrument as the childs ability grows. In the event the child decides not to continue with the instrument, it would be returned to the Library always to be “loaned” to another child. The instrument would never just go into a closet or an attic to be lost for years.

The instruments would be “donated” to the California Bluegrass Association by generous people that had instruments sitting in closets, attics or wherever, that were not being used. The instrument donation would be tax deductible. The hope was to also have luthiers that would donate some of their time and parts to the upkeep and minor care of these instruments. Financial donations would also be accepted as a way to pay for repairs that the luthiers could not do or to purchase instruments that we couldn’t get through donations.

Darrell was just ready to push forward on this project when he suddenly and tragically died of a massive heart attack. With that shock came a real desire to see that Darrell’s dream would become reality and since the CBA’s Fathers Day Bluegrass Festival 2005, we have been receiving instrument donations from many generous people.

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Posted By:  Rick Cornish

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