Haliburton Music Exchange gives music as a gift

By Nick Bernard
The Haliburton Music Exchange started with a single Facebook post, which grew into an idea that became one of the most rewarding experiences of Tom Oliver’s life.
“Somebody was giving away some kids’ guitars…and I thought, man, I wonder how many people have those instruments out there, and how many of them are just sitting in the corners of people’s houses” , Oliver mentioned.

Like any great guitarist, Oliver himself had amassed his own collection of guitars while only playing a small handful – that is, three or four guitars out of a total of 20.
“Thinking of myself, this is what all guitarists do – and how many of them are sitting there? And so it just gave me this idea: well, why do I don’t see?
The idea stuck with him, and using his professional knowledge of e-commerce, he created the online framework that would become the Haliburton Music Exchange.
“So I started it last November, with no expectation of anything, and… by December, Christmas, I was already in a position where I had, I think, at least 15 or 20 instruments sitting here,” Oliver said. “And we did the same thing we did this year, putting out a notice saying ‘does anyone need any kid’s instruments for Christmas? “”

Last November, Oliver posted on the Music Exchange Facebook page asking if any kids or teens might be interested in learning to play the guitar. As always, the response was immediate and enthusiastic. Oliver was able to release nine guitars before the holidays, a repeat of the success that launched the exchange in the first place.
“The same thing happened, I posted the message saying ‘we have full size guitars…for teenagers’ and boom,” he said, expressing the immediacy of the response. “And those came out and now we have a whole bunch of teenagers who are happy.
He says it’s been a progression, making people aware of what the stock market has to offer. While, coincidentally, Oliver has focused on guitars, the Music Exchange offers a number of different instruments.
“We also went through all kinds of other instruments,” he said, citing the example of a physically disabled girl for whom he was able to provide a trumpet. “We will take any instrument. We don’t take full size acoustic pianos, but we would like to have keyboards. We will take any other type of instrument in any state of repair.
The Music Exchange accepts donations either through Facebook with its page or through a form on their website. From there, Oliver repairs them, buys all the parts, and supplies what he needs, or he uses parts from other instruments as needed.
People can also request an instrument, where they can pick it up at Oliver’s home on Bolender Lane, across from Curry Chevrolet Buick GMC in Haliburton.
“I built the website, got the functionality of everything so that I could…get information from people about what was out there and what they needed to drop off,” Oliver explained.

He says none of what became the Music Exchange, which recently partnered with the Haliburton Folk Society to produce a free eight-week guitar lesson program, would have been possible without the immediate positive response from the community. .
“As soon as I started it, it exploded. Since then, we’ve only had a steady stream of instruments.
Although there were originally plans for the Haliburton Folk Society to provide financial oversight of the music exchange, those plans have been put on hold while the Folk Society institutes new COVID policies.
“We…totally support the idea of ​​providing free music lessons to young people in the county, an initiative which was started in collaboration between Tom [Oliver] and Greg Sadlier of Camexicanus. Their program was very successful last fall and we funded it,” Walter Tose, president of the Haliburton Folk Society, told the Echo in an email. “However, we realized afterwards that we did not have policies and procedures in place for proof of vaccination, police checks, parental permission, etc. We are currently developing these and once the COVID situation permits and these policies and procedures are in place, we will certainly be offering financial and promotional support again to anyone wishing to pursue such a program and who can meet our requirements.
Tose reiterated that the Folk Society still supports the idea of ​​a free music education program.

As for the future, Oliver says the focus is on developing more lesson plans, especially for the fall and winter months.
“I have different things in mind for this,” he said, dwelling on ideas for expanded courses and potential grants for students who want to take private lessons or attend music school. “Our goal is very specific: we want to provide free instruments and free lessons, and that’s really all…anything that translates into goodness there.”
For more information about the Haliburton Music Exchange, or to donate or request an instrument, visit www.haliburtonmusicexchange.com.