North Smithfield senior ‘Hungry’ to help others reap benefits of music

North Smithfield senior ‘Hungry’ to help others reap benefits of music

Lucas Mariotti plays saxophone with the North Smithfield High School band. Mariotti is raising money and collecting instruments for a charity that provides them to underpriveleged students as part of his senior project.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – For North Smithfield High School senior Lucas Mariotti, discovering music has been a life-changing experience, and it’s one he hopes to share with others by raising funds to provide instruments to students across the globe “hungry” for the opportunity.

As part of his senior project, Mariotti has organized a concert to benefit Hungry for Music, an organization that gives instruments to kids who demonstrate a desire to learn the skill.

The event will take place on Thursday, April 5, in the high school cafeteria, and he is now seeking donors to help with food for the event, as well as collecting used instruments from anyone wishing to donate. The concert will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and will feature various musical groups including jazz combo, chamber choir, jazz choir and more.

The project is a graduation requirement at NSHS, and the young saxophonist notes that he was choosing his topic right around the time that several communities experienced devastating hurricanes.

“I felt an overwhelming need to do something for people who needed help, and I wanted it to be something I believed in. I know personally, music has changed my life,” he said.

Mariotti has been playing saxophone for 11 years and singing for two, and says he may minor in music in college.

“The music program here has given me opportunity and I want to give other kids that opportunity,” Mariotti said.

The positive effects music can have on young lives, he notes, are well proven, and include everything from increased math scores, IQ and literacy rates, to decreased stress. Playing an instrument increases phonemic awareness, helps kids with mental disabilities to cope, and can even help to fight bacteria.

“The effects apply even to fetuses when their mother listens to music,” he said.

It’s also a cause Mariotti says he can relate to: For the past two years, he’s been working at a part-time job to save for a saxophone of his own.

“I understand and I can connect to it,” he said. “Obviously it’s a very big expense to buy an instrument.”

Established in 1994, Hungry for Music serves children who demonstrate a desire to learn music, as well as teachers who have students willing to learn. The organization, based in Washington, D.C., has delivered 11,000 instruments to children in 49 states and 25 countries over the past 23 years, supporting both parents who cannot afford the cost of renting or purchasing an instrument, and school music programs that have students who are unable to participate because of the expense.

Mariotti has researched how music can help others as part of the project, and has worked with mentor Jeff Ethier, a fellow saxophonist who is a teacher in Killingly, Conn.

It’s all leading up to the April concert, which will feature food prepared by NSHS culinary students. The evening will also serve as an introduction night for parents of 8th graders entering the school, and various other senior projects are expected to be on display.

“It’s going to be a culmination of everything good at North Smithfield High School,” Mariotti said.

The concert is free to attend, and donations are encouraged. Mariotti will be collecting instruments as well at the April 5 event, and notes that even old and broken instruments are accepted, and can be fixed and repurposed.

To donate an instrument in advance, contact Mariotti at lmariotti2000@gmail.com or to learn more about Hungry for Music, visit https://hungryformusic.org/ .