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Valley Jazz Cooperative Instrument Rental Assistance
for 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th grade students new to music programs
NO LONGER AN ACTIVE PROGRAM: No new applications accepted after FALL 2020

The Valley Jazz Cooperative Instrument Rental Assistance program has been created to address the unique challenges presented to prospective new music students during the 2020-2021 academic year. The statement below from VJC Director Russell Schmidt outlines the scope and intent of this new initiative:


“The VJC Instrument Rental Assistance program has been created to make band and string orchestra instruments available during the 2020-21 school year to new music students who have financial need. To be eligible for participation in the VJC IRA, individuals must be new to band or string orchestra programs, perhaps rising 5th or 6th graders (or even 4th or 7th graders, depending on their district’s timetable regarding the start of instrumental music). They must be individuals who would not otherwise be able to afford to rent instruments during academic 2020-21, due in part to the financial impact of the pandemic on our families and communities.”


VJC Instrument Rental Assistance FAQ


Who is eligible to apply for assistance?

The parent or guardian of a young person that plans to begin studying instrumental music in the Fall 2020.


The student in question must:

• be enrolled in a middle school, junior high school, or K-8/K-12 school in Maricopa County (AZ), and

• be a new (first-time) participant in their school’s band or string orchestra program.


The student’s parent or guardian must:

• be able to (briefly) articulate financial need for assistance with the rental of an instrument for the 2020-21 school year, and

• accept full responsibility–including financial liability–for the safe return of the instrument (in mid-to-late May 2021, unless other plans are mutually agreed upon).


This program was created because of the pandemic. The intent of the assistance is to help students who would otherwise not be able to afford to rent an instrument gain access to one. Please note that families that can afford to rent an instrument without outside assistance may not apply to this program


What type of financial support is available?

Eligible applicants may receive up to 100% of an instrument’s basic rental fee through the VJC IRA program. Also, for the majority of those whose applications to receive assistance are approved, those rental fees will be covered for the entire 2020-21 school year.


How might the pandemic impact this program?

Those receiving some form of rental assistance as a result of a successful application will have their award honored regardless of whether the school year offers in-person instruction, online teaching, or some hybrid model. While we want the students to have access to instruments and access to the many wonderful band and orchestra directors across the Valley, we know that remote instruction for music ensembles may frequently be the norm in the months ahead.


The high school orchestras, wind ensembles, marching bands, and jazz ensembles of 2024-25 depend, in part, on getting instruments into the hands of middle school-age students now. So this program will move forward regardless of how the current school year unfolds.

What instruments are eligible for this rental assistance program?

For Band: Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion (in the form of a basic percussion kit)


For String Orchestra: Violin, Viola, Cello


The monthly rental fee for certain other instruments (Oboe, Bassoon, French horn, Upright Bass, etc.) are significantly more expensive. Helping families rent those instruments would limit the VJC’s ability to assist as many students as possible. Therefore, the only instruments eligible for consideration as part of this program are the nine listed above.

For students having little idea what instrument they should choose, Milano Music Center has created a series of Instrument Introduction Videos. These videos can help an undecided student find their musical voice, selecting the instrument that best suits them. Click HERE to see the full playlist of Instrument Introduction Videos.


Are additional resources/materials/accessories included?

No. Any continued (year-long) purchases for clarinet/sax reeds, valve oil, and so forth are the responsibility of the family of the individual renting the instrument. However, basic instrument repair insurance is included as part of the rental assistance program.


What instrument rental service is the Valley Jazz Cooperative partnering with in this program?

The VJC is working with Milano Music Center, which will provide rental instruments as part of this program. However, all VJC IRA applications must be submitted directly to the Valley Jazz Cooperative, which will forward them to Milano Music Center (upon approval). If an application is rejected for any reason, the VJC will notify the applicant as soon as the review process has been completed.

How does one apply for instrument rental assistance?

At the bottom of this page, you will find a downloadable .pdf file containing two documents: one from the Valley Jazz Cooperative, the other from Milano Music Center. Please print them out, complete and sign both, scan or photograph them, and email them as attachments to the Director of the Valley Jazz Cooperative.


In most cases (excluding applications received on a Friday or Saturday), applicants can expect a response on the status of their application within 48 hours of receipt.


If approved, how would we collect the instrument? And how do we handle the instrument’s return at the end of the school year?

Milano Music Center will work with you to get you the instrument. If one’s school is actually meeting (in person), then the instrument will be delivered to the school, to be distributed by the band or orchestra director to the student. If one’s school is currently following an online-learning model, then the VJC and Milano Music Center will find alternate means to see that an approved applicant has access to a rental instrument.


In mid-to-late May 2021, the instrument will need to be returned to Milano Music Center. If one’s school is meeting (in person), then the instrument may be picked up at school, through coordinated effort with the band or orchestra program. If one’s school is in online-learning mode, then it is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to return the instrument directly to Milano Music Center. (Additional details will be provided via email in April 2021.)


Jazz features prominently in the name and activities of this organization. Does my child have to play jazz in order to be eligible to apply?

No. In fact, we know that the vast majority of those applying won’t be playing jazz in 2020-21, as they begin their journeys in music. Perhaps some of these young people might be playing jazz in a couple of years. And if so, the VJC would welcome their presence in our ensembles someday. But, as stated above, this program is simply about providing instruments now to beginning music students with a demonstrated financial need.


What is the Valley Jazz Cooperative?

The Valley Jazz Cooperative is an educational outreach of MSW Ministries, known locally to some as Music Serving The Word. [MSW is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.] While we normally offer in-person instruction during the school year to students in grades 8 through 12, our emphasis for the remainder of 2020 is turning to online instruction and facilitation of music education (as through this VJC IRA program).

VJC Director Russell Schmidt would like to personally thank Band Directors Jennifer Howard (Dobson HS) and Matt Kozacek (Campo Verde HS) for their initial assistance in shaping the direction of this initiative.

Finally, for any parent or guardian who has follow-up questions about this program, please feel free to email the VJC Director.

CLICK BELOW for the application
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