NewsHillsborough County


Gapsparilla Music Festival supplies gently used instruments to students

Posted at 3:54 PM, Sep 28, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — This Friday kicks off the Gasparilla Music Festival. When you buy a ticket, remember it’s not just about the bands on stage, it’s about the next generation of musical talent right here in Tampa Bay.

Leon Maicen may be performing at the festival this Sunday, but he still has time to entertain the fifth graders at West Tampa Elementary.

“It brings me back to when I was nine and picked up a guitar for the first time, you only get to experience that once, but seeing these kids and their passion for music really brings me back to that,” said Maicen.

Every year, money raised from the festival goes back to the Recycled Tunes Program, supplying lightly used instruments to title one schools across Hillsborough County, like West Tampa Elementary.

“Well it’s great to know that you are seeing some of your favorite bands play and while you are doing that you’re supporting some local schools and a great cause,” said Taylor Raynor with the Recycled Tunes Program. “One of my favorite things is when I walk into a classroom with a handful of instruments, all the students light up, and it's beautiful to see them play.”

Music teacher Ashley Gillespie said instruments are expensive, for many of her students this is the only opportunity they’ll have to play the guitar or keyboard.

“These students are the future music makers and music appreciators they are the ones that are going to be buying those concert tickets later or making the music later,” said Gillespie.

One strike of the keys and these students are already dreaming big.

“Someday I want to be a songwriter,” said Jeilani.

“I want to be a musician and an artist when I grow up,” said Pepe.

Gillespie said it’s nice to know there are organizations like Recycled Tunes looking out for the arts in the schools.

“It’s really stressful to be a teacher right now but it's worth it when you see how excited the kids are about doing something,” said Gillespie.

For more information on the program go to