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Help the Texas School For The Blind complete their set of Zimbabwean Style Marimbas!
Help the Texas School For The Blind complete their set of Zimbabwean Style Marimbas!
58 backers pledged $4,301 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

$4,301

58

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Thank you all SO MUCH for helping us reach our initial $4000 goal!  As most of you know, the $4000 goal was the first milestone that we had to reach in order for the project to definitely happen!  We now have enough money to build TWO MARIMBAS!  Yea!!!  

I also got word that there is a strong chance we will receive a $1500 grant to put towards the project.

So here we are: The total cost to build ALL FIVE of the marimbas for the school is $10,400.  Kickstarter and the credit card company take 10% so that adds $1000.  So the total cost we are hoping to raise is $11,400.  We received $2000 from the school, and with the $1500 grant that means that to completely fund this project, we need the kickstarter total to be: $7900.

Can you help us reach the goal of $7900 by the end of this campaign?

Hi folks,

My name is Joel Laviolette.  I live in Austin, TX, and I play traditional Zimbabwean music. I lead a Zimbabwean style marimba band called Rattletree Marimba.  

I also build all of our own marimbas, and the instruments for many of my students.

Jane Rundquist (the woman in the picture) is the music teacher for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). She saw us at a local show and immediately felt that the the marimbas would be perfect for her students.

As you all know, funding for schools has really been tough these days, so they weren't able to get the funds together for a new set, but they did get the money together to buy a used Bass Marimba and Baritone Marimba.

Last fall, I delivered the used Bass Marimba and Baritone marimba to the school.  It was a really exciting day!  Once the marimbas were set up, I started playing on the bass, and kids started coming in drawn to the sound.

I didn't know this, but at TSBVI, there are a number of both deaf and blind students.  One girl in particular came in and she was deaf and blind.  She had an assistant with her that would communicate with her by doing hand gestures as they were holding each others hands.  

She could feel the vibrations of the Bass Marimba as I played.  She had a huge smile on her face, and whenever I stopped, she'd gesture that she wanted me to keep playing.  It was a really humbling experience to see the power of music.

When I experienced that moment, I saw how important this is for these kids.  Just because they are blind (and some are deaf as well) the power of the music still is able to uplift them and excite them! 

The Zimbabwean style marimba bands usually consist of seven marimbas-the Bass and Baritone that they already have,and also two tenor marimbas and three soprano marimbas.  Right now, two kids can play at once.  With a full set, a whole class of 11 kids can play at once together. 

Because the school does not have the funds for a complete set, I decided to go to you-the community.  With your support,  I can buy the materials and take the time involved to build these marimbas.  It will take me about 3 months of solid work, so other than materials, you are just paying for me to be able to focus on this work and still feed my kids :)

Thanks for considering it!  

I am setting the project limit very low.  $4000 is enough for me to build 2 marimbas, but to build the full set is quite a bit more (about $8000).  Since Kickstarter only gives you the funds if you meet your goal, I figured it is better to set the goal low.  If you can afford to pay more, every bit will go towards the next marimbas.

Thanks you so much for your support!  Even if you can't afford to financially support this project, please help by spreading the word!  Thanks! 

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    We'll send you a link to a private web page with pictures of the marimbas as they are being built. After they are done, we'll take a group picture of the class, and send you a signed poster thanking you!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The above $10 reward plus one free beginners group one hour marimba class with me (for you or someone of your choice in the Austin, TX area)...or a Rattletree T-Shirt. Whichever you choose!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Shop at Whole Foods? Whole Foods has donated 4 $25 gift certificates toward the project!

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Receive a Rattletree T-Shirt, and one Rattletree Live EP!

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    1 backer
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The above $10 reward plus one free private marimba or mbira lesson with me (for you or someone of your choice in the Austin, TX area-($70 value).

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    4 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The above $10 reward plus one free private marimba or mbira lesson with me via Skype. This is for folks that don't live in Austin. ($70 value).

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    The above $10 reward plus a Rattletree T-shirt, Rattletree Live EP CD, and Joel Laviolette's solo CD.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Silver level sponsorship. The above $50 reward plus a certificate signed by me and Jane Rundquist thanking you for you sponsorship of the marimba building project.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    Receive a Rattletree T-Shirt, one Rattletree Live EP, Joel Laviolette's solo CD, and an ADVANCE copy of the yet unreleased Rattletree CD: featuring great guest artists-including NEWTON GWARA, MOLLY VENTER, LIBBY KIRKPATRICK, ERIN IVEY, and AARON DEMBE!

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Gold level sponsorship. The above $50 reward plus a certificate signed by me and Jane Rundquist thanking you for you sponsorship of the marimba building project. You will also receive a pair of Zimbabwean marimba mallets built by me and signed by the students!

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Gold level sponsorship. The above $50 reward plus a certificate signed by me and Jane Rundquist thanking you for you sponsorship of the marimba building project. I will also build you a special marimba key out of African Padauk wood, and the students will sign the keys as thanks! AND, you will get a Rattletree T-Shirt!

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Platnum level sponsorship. The above $50 reward plus a certificate signed by me and Jane Rundquist thanking you for you sponsorship of the marimba building project. I will also build you a special marimba key out of African Padauk wood, and the students will sign the keys as thanks! Rattletree Trio will also perform a one hour private concert for you anywhere within 300 miles of Austin (non-ticketed events only). If you don't live in Austin, instead of the trio concert, Joel will give you 4 one hour Skype lessons and send you a Rattletree shirt!

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Diamond level sponsorship. At this level, you are providing the funds for ONE COMPLETE MARIMBA. We will etch your name on a special brass nameplate attached to the marimba thanking you as the sponsor of that marimba. You will also receive the above $50 reward plus a certificate signed by me and Jane Rundquist thanking you for you sponsorship of the marimba building project.

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    Have a marimba band? Be a band sponsor! If your marimba band chooses to sponsor the kids class at this level, Joel will fly to you and teach two days of intensive marimba, mbira , and guitar workshops to your band. (travel expenses are covered anywhere in the US-outside of the US may cost more because of tickets-contact me to check!) Basic lodging expenses not covered-I can sleep on floors.

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Funding period

- (60 days)