Courtesy Sophie Marshall
POCATELLO — Sophie Marshall started playing the cello when she was 3. For 12 years, her mother would ferry her weekly to and from Salt Lake City.
“There just wasn’t a teacher in Pocatello at the time,” Marshall told EastIdahoNews.com.
That absence was “part of the reason” Marshall began giving private cello lessons in Pocatello after earning a musical performance degree from Utah State University. She was also inspired by longtime friend and now bandmate Jacie Sites and her husband, Joe.
The Sites run a program called “Strings for Kids,” which provides violins and free lessons for qualifying students in Idaho Falls. They also maintain and repair instruments for local music students, Marshall said.
“That’s really, really cool, and I think their generosity kind of inspired me to try doing something like that with cellos here, in Pocatello,” she added.
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For several years, Marshall, inspired by the Sites, has been collecting secondhand cellos. She regularly visits online marketplaces, music stores and pawn shops to create what she calls a “cello library.”
Rental from the library is included in tuition for her private, one-on-one music classes.
But her dream is much larger.
Eventually, Marshall said, she would like to build a library of numerous instruments large enough for anyone — student or not — to check out an instrument and test their love for it. It’s “something our community could really use,” she added.
This Christmas, Marshall tested a creative way to raise funds to maintain and possibly expand her library. She sold raffle tickets for the chance to win one of her cellos.
Just this week, she said, she sold the last of the raffle tickets and selected a winner, who will soon get their new instrument. She sold 220 tickets, a total she figured she would need to sell to create an operating budget for the beginnings of her library.
But she raised even more than targeted as people would often give her more than the $10 required for a single ticket while requesting just one. She also received donations from people who did not want a ticket but just wanted to support her dream.
Those donations, she told EastIdahoNews.com, recently brought her to tears.
“It’s been really wonderful to see how generous people have been,” she said. “I’ve had so many people hand me cash and say, ‘I don’t need any raffle tickets, just donate what you can to a student who might need it.’”
Sophie Marshall playing with the Teton Riders. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
In addition to her instrument library aspirations, Marshall has taken a great deal of pleasure in sharing her teaching studio with other local music teachers in need of such space.
“It’s been a fun thing to get a sort of collective started with other music teachers in town because we all have a passion, and somehow we haven’t all connected in Pocatello yet,” she said.
Marshall offers classes at her studio, the Pocatello Cello Collective, using both classical and folksy, bluegrass “fiddle tune” music in her lessons.
She encouraged anyone interested in taking cello lessons, donating or monitoring the library’s progress to follow her on Instagram here.
The post Local musician dreams of sharing the gift of music through instrument library appeared first on East Idaho News.
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