Girls Rock RVA! presents the Free Richmond Instrument Lending Library; grand opening this Saturday

Posted by: Necci – Sep 18, 2014


Starting this Saturday, thanks to a partnership between Girls Rock! RVA and the Richmond Public Library, the Free Richmond Instrument Lending Library (FRILL) will be able to equip young aspiring musicians across the area with a variety of instruments ranging from electric guitars, basses, and keyboards, and even drum kits and amplifiers.

Oh, and did we mention it’s FREE?

Patty Conway and other officials with Girls Rock! RVA came up with the idea to lend out instruments after their successful summer camp and showcase this past August. In today’s economy, it is a huge financial commitment to purchase instruments for children. But once they started working with the Richmond Public Library, they were able to offer space to hold programming for children, young adults, and families, and have been able to provide free workshops in the Main Branch location.

“Our organizations have similar values, such as community accessibility, self-directed learning, and promoting diversity and protecting minority or dissenting voices,” said Conway. "The partnership is mutually beneficial, keeping our costs down through access to free space, while bringing patrons in to the library who may not normally attend programs there."

Girls Rock! RVA provides a safe space in Richmond that empowers girls, gender non-conforming, and trans youth to collaborate creatively in an environment of mutual respect and positive self-expression. The organization utilizes youth music education and empowerment workshops to build confidence, foster creativity, and to promote values of equality, accessibility, collaboration, teamwork, mutual respect, and feminist empowerment. While they usually only remain active during the summer, Girls Rock! RVA plans to have FRILL open at the Richmond Public Library every other Saturday to encourage youth to not let financial issues stop them from picking up an instrument.

Conway referred to decreased public education budgets when explaining the reasoning behind the program. “We want to expand access to musical expression for Richmond youth. We are living in a time where music and art education funding is being slashed from school budgets," she said. "These opportunities for expression, and the type of creative thinking and analytical skills that musical expression requires, are essential for young people, and can serve not just as an educational opportunity, but as an outlet for self-expression, self-exploration, and identity formation.”

The FRILL grand opening on September 20th at the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library is going to be an afternoon full of workshops and events. The People’s Library project will have papermaking and storytelling segments while FRILL is open. So regardless of gender identity, age, and musical experience, all Richmond youth are encouraged to pop in, sign up for a library card, grab an instrument, and enjoy the reception that kicks off at 3pm.

Conway and the other FRILL volunteers hope this program will increase engagement from members of the community who don't often have as many opportunities to pick up musical instruments. “It’s easier now than ever because of the internet--there are millions of tutorials on YouTube," Conway said. "If you don’t have internet at home, we will have zines available at FRILL, and the Richmond Public Library has instructional books and DVDs you can check out. We have lots of volunteers who play all sorts of instruments and can point you in the right direction.”

The FRILL Grand Opening begins at noon on Saturday, September 20 at the Richmond Public Library, located at 101 E. Franklin St. For more info about the event or getting started with an instrument, click here or reach out to [email protected].

By Taylor Gleason