Iowa City girl helps raise money for band instruments


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Sasha Chapnick-Sorokin stepped onto a dim stage in a white shirt and floral skirt.

Sitting at a brown grand piano, she played Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s upbeat “Eccossaise” in front of a group of about 60 at the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 1233 E. Market St., on Sunday.

As part of a service project for her September Bat Mitzvah, the 11-year-old Shimek Elementary student hosted a concert with her peers to raise money for musical instruments at five local elementary schools.

“I was thinking of a project, and I knew I wanted to do something with music,” Chapnick-Sorokin said.

Sasha decided to pair with her music teacher, Katherine Smith, and raise funds for Shimek, Lucas, Wood, Mann, and Twain Elementary schools in order to buy more instruments for the school bands.
An instrument costs around $250 on average.

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More children need instruments as school begins, but as students drop out of band or acquire their own instruments, demand usually decreases. But Smith said she still has three children waiting on trumpets this year, evidence of an increasing interest in the bands. She said some students may even be left without an instrument this year when school lets out in June.

Each elementary school has a band of around 60 students, Smith said. Of those, roughly 15 are put on a waiting list each year for an instrument from the school.

“We try to emphasize to people that if you make a small contribution, it is not small; it is actually very large,” said Jerry Sorokin, Sasha’s father. “So if Sasha is able to purchase a couple of instruments to help other kids in Iowa City play in the band that’s as if she made a huge contribution to the lives of children in the community.”

So far, Smith and Sasha have persuaded several local businesses — including Blackstone, Bluebird Diner, Bob’s Your Uncle, Bochner’s Chocolate, Brueggers, Cold Stone, and Dairy Queen — to donate to the cause.

Sunday’s two-hour concert included 24 performances, all played by Sasha’s 7- to 12-year-old friends. The music featured a mix of solos, small ensembles, and five pieces from the Crescendo Children’s Choir. Sasha played in three solos and a quartet, in which she played piano, violin, and clarinet.

Sasha started begging her mother to let her play the violin when she was 3, and she started taking lessons a year later.

“At a young age, she is taking responsibility, and she is looking out for other children because there are so many children who don’t have these opportunities, and it is really great that she is thinking of other kids,” said Claire Chapnick, Sasha’s mother.

During the intermission of the concert, the group held a raffle, a bake sale, and a silent auction. That money will also be used to purchase more musical instruments for the schools.

“Before you leave today,” Sasha told the audience. “I hope you see all the benefits music can bring.”

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