A woman holds an old electric piano in front of  a screen with the Mockingbird Foundation's home page displayed

A lack of proper power adaptors for her aging electric pianos spurred Roscoe Central School music teacher Kelly Bullis to do something. 

That “thing” was to apply for a grant from the Mockingbird Foundation, which supports music education for children.

Bullis applied for—and received—$1,450 to purchase 10 half-size electric pianos. Most of the district’s current pianos are more than 30 years old and not of high quality, she said.

“If students are exposed to high-quality instruments they will treat them with respect,” she said.

The foundation, which is a volunteer effort run and supported by Phish fans, received 1,217 funding requests. Of those, the foundation pulled all requests for $2,000 or less, ushered them through an expedited due diligence review, and announced 25 grants totaling $35,980.

Bullis said she wants to teach all students to be comfortable playing social instruments, such as the piano.

She hopes to start having early elementary students use the new pianos, she said.

“Studies have shown that the earlier you are taught to play an instrument, the easier it is to learn,” she said. 

Bullis was made aware of the grant from RCS Superintendent John Evans. 

“With Roscoe being in financially difficult times, I felt it was important to seek out additional funds to help support our terrific programs at RCS,” Evans said. “It is exciting to see Mrs. Bullis’ project approved.”

Bullis said she plans to apply for the grant again next year to purchase more instruments to be used starting in elementary school.

“This funding will help in my goal to create lifelong musicians,” she said.