Piano fundraiser receives nation-wide recognition

From left, Cheryl Hemphill, president of the Laramie Music Teachers Association, plays a piano at Spring Wind Assisted Living on Friday afternoon as Cindy Peterson, a member of local association and president-elect of the Wyoming Music Teachers Association, and Lorene Sims Brooks, local vice president, look on. 

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

The Laramie Music Teachers Association was recently selected by the Music Teachers National Association as the 2018 Local Association of the Year for its fundraising campaign in spring 2017 to replace the piano at a local assisted living facility.

Three members from the Laramie Music Teachers Association plan to accept the award at the Music Teachers National Association award ceremony March 20 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Laramie Music Teachers Association President Cheryl Hemphill said this is the first time, that she is aware of, the Laramie association won this award. She said the association is receiving this award because of a fundraiser in 2017 to replace an older piano in need of some repair at Spring Wind Assisted Living.

“The main reason we were even nominated to be considered for the local association award was because last spring, we did a fundraiser,” Hemphill said. “This fundraiser was to raise money for a new used piano for Spring Wind Assisted Living, because a number of (association members) go over there and do musical things for them.”

Music Teacher National Association Northwest Division Director Christopher Hahn writes in an email to Hemphill that the local association was unanimously voted for in a year with more competition for the award.

“We asked each state (music teachers association) president to share an activity or event that was noteworthy from one local association in the state,” Hahn writes. “What this means for Laramie is that, in a year that was more competitive than in years past, your activity of fundraising to provide a piano for the care facility was deemed of most significance.”

Spring Wind cook and piano player Michelle Thiel said music is important at the facility for making it feel like a home for the residents. She said the piano at the facility was in poor condition. Since the new piano came to the facility, she has noticed more people coming for piano recitals and musical performances, because they have a better piano.

“The residents love music, so being able to have a better quality instrument helps to aid the family feeling around here,” Thiel said. “Having a better quality instrument brings in better performers and we have had a lot more piano recitals here as a result of that.”

Hemphill said the Laramie Music Teachers Association typically hosts a fundraising event every other year, when members of the association or students perform. Because the association only has fundraisers every other year, its undecided who would receive money raised at the next fundraiser, she said.

“I am sure that we will have one, but what hasn’t been decided is who the recipient of the funds will be,” Hemphill said. “In the past, we did Big Brothers Big Sisters one year, we did Climb Wyoming one time, and one year we did an individual in the music community that had a particular medical need and needed a particular item and we were able to raise enough money to get that item.”

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