Scott Napier seeks eligible youth for guitar donation

Scott Napier accepting a new Alvarez AD-60 from Todd Yates

Scott Napier is doing it again…connecting a deserving youth with a new musical instrument. A couple months ago, he presented one of his young music students a guitar donated by one of his mature on-line students. It sparked the idea of gifting instruments to young musicians in need of a better instrument, and opening it up to the broader bluegrass community. It is becoming a passion for the professional musician and instrumental music teacher.

“I like to do this for young musicians – as the opportunity presents itself. Giving as I’m able, or facilitating such a gift, means possibly as much to me as it does to the receiving student. I know what it’s like to be a young player interested in this music, but without the means or help to get to the next level.”

The Kentucky-based Wildfire mandolinist, Associate Professor, and three-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Mentor of the Year nominee shared, “I’ve named this thing ‘Napier’s Need for Music.’ I figure if we give it a name it will solidify it, people will be more eager to continue (making instrument contributions). I’ve decided to hold the giveaway for ages 9-16. I’ll take submissions until August 1, and then at some point will coordinate a meeting to hopefully surprise the recipient with (its donor) Todd Yates being there, likely at a concert or public event.”

Napier shared information on his most recent donor. “Mr. Yates was inspired by our last Bluegrass Today article (about aprevious guitar gift). I met him in Knoxville at Banjothon/Loarfest in January. After reading our (May 16th) article, he sent me a message and said he wanted to donate a brand-new guitar for the purpose of gifting it onto a deserving student. It happened during my band, Wildfire’s, concert at the Southland Jamboree in Lexington, KY on June 15.”

Donor, Todd Yates, explained his reasoning for doing this.

“Growing up on a farm in rural Kentucky, I started almost from birth being surrounded by equal doses of the outdoors and live music. My dad played steel guitar in a local band when I was a kid, so I was surrounded by musicians and instruments from an early age. It’s no real surprise then that I’m a longtime amateur guitar player, bluegrass, and acoustic music fan, and for about ten years now, an administrator on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum. This donation idea all started very casually. A forum member approached me with a guitar to donate and asked if I could help place it in a good home. That particular opportunity fell through, but the idea stuck.  

I talked with Scott about the possibility of donating a guitar to one of his students or other contacts. He was excited about it. I was excited about it. So it seemed we had to make it happen. When a friend of mine at St. Louis Music heard what I wanted to do, he offered to help me with a generous discount.  That’s how I ended up with this brand new Alvarez AD-60, and beautiful case. I bought my younger brother his first guitar many years ago. It has served him well and led him to a lifelong love of guitars and music. I joked with Scott that I appreciated his help since I was all out of brothers, and he was now critical to extending and expanding that tradition. It was great working with Scott, knowing that he’d get this guitar into the hands of a player who could really appreciate it and might not otherwise have access to a good, playable instrument. I’d love to do it again in the future!

Napier continued…

“My previous, first-time facilitated giveaway went from one of my students at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music to one of my youth students with the Hindman Settlement School’s Pick and Bow Program. As this second opportunity arose, I decided to open it up to the whole bluegrass community and make it a bigger initiative. I’ll take emails from folks that know a worthy kid (self-nominations encouraged) – just a paragraph stating their need, age, how long they’ve been playing, favorite thing about music, that sort of thing to give me, an idea of their background, experience, and interests.

I personally feel the ideal candidate would be a kid that has been interested in bluegrass long enough to start working at it themselves somehow; not necessarily someone who’s never been exposed to an instrument before, but a student with a passion for the music who wants to continue to learn and become involved, but for whatever reason or situation needs a better playing/quality instrument, and lacks the means to obtain such an instrument.

I’d encourage anyone eligible to apply/nominate, no matter where they’re from… but the only catch is that I don’t want to ship it. I’d like to present it (as a surprise) in person, like at a show or event of some sort. The meet-up/presentation doesn’t have to be in Kentucky, but within the general region.”

“I think from this one, another will happen, maybe additional instruments like a banjo, mandolin next time, who knows,” Napier concluded. 

It is a great mission from a seasoned picker/instructor for budding musicians.

Send emails stating the need of a deserving youth to Scott directly.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.