Imagine an event that gives the gift of music to children whose families are not in the position to get them an instrument.
You can now stop imagining because such an event will be taking place at 7 p.m on Nov. 30 at The Marquee.
Started by local father, foreman at Tyson and “guitar hero,” Nick Carter, the event is now in its fourth year. “Did You Play Your Guitar Today?” is Carter’s brainchild which he started after winning a guitar and seeing how good the feeling was. He wanted to give guitars to children that would otherwise not be able to afford the instruments.
“What happened was I entered an Instagram contest and won a guitar from D’ Angelico,” said Carter. “It was really surreal and mind blowing. Winning that gave me all the reason to start giving to people.
“The organization I created, ‘Did You Play Your Guitar Today?’ is primarily focused on trying to get guitars in the hands of kids who want them who might not get them. It helps out the naïve parents who might not know anything about guitars.”
A free will donation is all it takes to enter the festivities, particularly monetary or music-related donations.
“You could come with a pack of strings, guitar pics, used or broken guitars…anything musical you bring will be used as a donation,” said Carter.
Besides the obvious local music ties, why was The Marquee chosen as the location for this event?
“The Marquee actually chose me,” said Carter. “Kelly and Mitch both reached out to me, telling me this needed to happen. Without these guys I might not have made my goal last year. A lot of the money comes from my own pocket, which is fun, but the community has also come out to support…it feels real good.”
It is the time of year for giving, which Carter loves and believes whole-heartedly, and he appreciates the opportunity to do so while teaching his son the spirit of charity.
“We always have this around Christmas and the holiday season; it doesn’t exclude anyone,” said Carter. “Around this time there’s a lot of giving, and I’m a sucker for giving. I love Christmas. I have a 7-year-old son who I like to show what we are doing ever year and why we are doing it…it’s important he sees that.
“When I was growing up, I wanted a guitar so bad, but my mom and dad were naïve to it. I wish I could be standing somewhere some day and hear a kid saying they want a guitar. Their parents may not be able to afford it, but I could come and save the day.”
Over the course of the last three years, this event has given away 75 guitars to the less fortunate children. Carter hopes to give away at least 25 more guitars this year to push the four year total to 100.
Carter obtains guitars from donations, swap sites and pawn shops. After he receives the guitars, he works on them to make sure they are in working condition before giving the guitars away to the children.
Why is it so important to Carter that these children get a chance to take home a guitar?
“Just to give them a chance they may not be able to have,” said Carter. “It feels so damned good to give. Music is so important. If a kid wants to experience music, they need it. It’s so healthy…you need to let them have it. I get a huge kick out of seeing these kids with their new guitars. Hopefully my son really picks up on this.”
If your kid wants the opportunity to get a free guitar, Carter suggests having your kid send him a letter stating why he or she wants a guitar.
“Last year I got a ton of letters,” he said. “You can tell who is getting assistance with writing the letters…who’s really trying. If there is a kid who really wants a guitar, there is no way I can’t give the kid a guitar.”
The reaction of the children receiving the guitars is always worth the time and energy spent by Carter and the others putting on the event.
“I have a couple videos of kids saying, ‘it’s a real guitar!’” said Carter. “Some say, ‘thank you, Nick.’ Sometimes girls start crying when they receive their guitars. I’ve seen silence, too, which is great. Music is such a personal thing. It was big to me while growing up, and I just want to give that to other people.”
In addition to the benefit, there will also be raffles, a silent auction, food and drinks and live music from Port Nocturnal, Sans Dula, Calling Grace, Black Seer and Sammy Dimera.
If you want to help give the gift of music to children, come to this event and participate. Music shouldn’t only be in the hands of the wealthy; everybody should have a chance for self-expression and a healthy creative outlet.
“It’s going to be a good time and it’s a chance for everybody to be involved in something that means a lot to me and to these kids that might not have as much during the holidays as we do,” said Carter. “If somebody wanted to come to me and offer to sponsor a kid for Christmas, I will encourage that. I’m telling you, this event will move you.”