Gift of Music

Abby Sevegny, of North Smithfield, left, and Rick Verfaille, of Rick’s Music in Cumberland, are partnering on Sevegny’s senior project to collect and refurbish instruments for children who need them.

CUMBERLAND – Abby Sevegny says she wanted her senior project at North Smithfield High School to make a real difference in the lives of other young people.

Sevegny is well on her way to accomplishing that goal, collecting several instruments already as she seeks to reach a goal of 25 total by next spring, all to be donated to Rhode Island youth who may not have the opportunities she’s had to learn music.

Sevegny is partnering with Rick Verfaille, of Rick’s Music on Mendon Road in Cumberland, who is refurbishing each donated instrument collected by Sevegny, and doing so free of charge as he mentors her through the senior project. Sevegny is working with music teacher Pam Ryan-Landry and senior project coordinator Lindsay Aromin from NSHS on her project.

Sevigny, daughter of Sue and Scott Sevegny, bought her first instrument from Rick’s Music as a 6th-grader and took lessons there as well. She said Verfaille’s shop is where she developed a love for music, and if she can now pass that love on to others who might not otherwise have the chance to buy their own instrument, then her senior project will have been a huge success.

Sevegny said she’s grateful to Verfaille for contributing his efforts and great expertise to her project. She said she understands the value of music education.

“I took private lessons for five years, but I learned life lessons that go beyond the music,” she said.

Verfaille said he is happy to contribute to a project that gives back, especially to young people such as Abby who want to learn music.

“You can’t hand them a flute that doesn’t play,” he said.

Sevegny said she was nervous to start out, but quickly learned that people would come alongside her to support the effort. She said she’s hung posters around North Smithfield and plans to reach out to other communities in hopes of exceeding her goal of 25 instruments by next March. She plans to use social media and reach out to the Rhode Island Music Education Association for support as well.

Verfaille said the time investment varies by instrument donated, with one keyboard only needing a good cleaning but other instruments needing new pads and other work. A clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and guitar were all among the donated items so far heading into this week, and the pair expected to receive a trombone as well.

Sevegny, the president of the band at NSHS, said she hasn’t quite figured out where to focus when it comes time to hand out the instruments next spring, but she plans to target communities that don’t have a thriving music program and may not have the resources she experienced in her district, where she’s been able to do extracurricular activities such as participate in state music festivals and work with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Wind and Southern New England Honor Band at the University of Rhode Island.

After saving her money for two years after buying her first flute as a 6th-grader, Sevegny was able to save up enough to buy the Haynes flute she still uses today.

Verfaille said that in his experience, elementary and middle school teachers typically know exactly the students who can’t afford a good instrument but want to play, and they’ll be the ones to steer donations in the right direction.

Anyone who would like to donate a used instrument to Sevegny’s effort is invited to email her at asevegny22@gmail.com.

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