Anaheim Elementary School District partners with Yamaha to turn instruments into works of art

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Musical instruments that can’t be sold are getting new life as vibrant pieces of visual art thanks to students, families, teachers and other local artists in the Anaheim Elementary School District.

AESD is one of four organizations in Orange County that recently received blemished guitars, cellos and violins through The Yamaha Cares Upcycle Program. From there, they became canvases for intricate works of art — or were reimagined into something else entirely.

You’ll get a chance to see these creations in person — or even buy one — from March 12 through the end of April at the Able ARTS Work gallery in Long Beach. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Anaheim instruments will benefit the district.

Children with painted guitar

Upcycling commonly describes the creative reuse of an older item, often with a positive environmental impact. And that’s exactly what happened after Buena Park-based Yamaha Corporation of America recently donated more than 200 blemished guitars, cellos and violins to Able ARTS Work, Boys & Girls Club of Buena Park, KatrinaKures/CHOC and Anaheim Elementary.

“Instead of crushing these instruments, the Yamaha Cares Upcycle Program provides an innovative way for organizations to raise funds for their art and music programs,” said David Jewell, Yamaha’s partnerships and alliances manager.

“In addition to promoting and funding the arts and music education,” he said, “part of our corporate social responsibility mission is to reduce the amount of waste that Yamaha sends to a landfill.”

We’re told 20 guitars made their way to Anaheim Elementary, where they were transformed into masterpieces by local families, the Muzeo Art group, teachers and staff. Nine of them will be on display in Long Beach.

Some painted scenes on their guitars to preserve their music-making utility, while others repurposed their instruments into decorative items. One Muzeo artist, Robert Holton, created a Disney-themed guitar for Anaheim Elementary as well as a commemorative Dodger-themed guitar for KatrinaKures/CHOC.

“This program came at a time during the pandemic when parents and students really needed a creative outlet, and it allowed them to put their feelings and ideas into a meaningful project,” said Mark Anderson, music curriculum specialist for the Anaheim Elementary School District. “We are always excited when there are opportunities for parents to engage in the student learning, and this project brought so much joy from start to finish.”

The Able ARTS Work gallery is located at 6420 E. Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach in Suite 150. The exhibit will be open to the public starting March 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.