Chinn Guitar Project donates guitars to Longview school

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Published: May. 19, 2022 at 3:39 PM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2022 at 11:01 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It is a dilemma many aspiring young musicians face - instrument affordability. A student may want to learn to play, but the family just can’t buy one.

Well, a Longview-based nonprofit has decided to do something about that, and 14 instruments will now be in the hands of musically inclined students.

Ken Chinn is the founder of the Chinn Guitar Project, which supplies schools, hospitals, and students with free guitars. He said it sort of accidentally started eight years ago.

“My daughter was sick in the hospital at Children’s Medical Center, and it just developed from that to find out that to find out that they had music therapists and needed guitars,” Chinn said.

Others heard and made requests for the same.

“And so that’s why we ended up setting up the 501(C)(3) and providing guitars all over the nation,” Chinn said.

Schools and hospitals sometimes keep and take care of the guitars, but, according to Music Teacher Kristi Grimes at Johnson-McQueen Elementary School in Longview, that’s not the case today.

“The students take possession. They are theirs. The students take them home today, and it’s their guitar,” Grimes said.

Grimes said she has guitars for students to use in class. So, that just made sense, and it made a lot of smiles as Ken watched fifth-grader Elena Orrosquieta and other students pick a guitar.

“I was so excited and happy. I was surprised I got chosen to get a guitar,” Elena said.

Elena said she loves music because of “how the rhythm and beats are. And how beautiful the instruments are.”

Seeing the kid’s reaction to the guitars tends to make Ken think back to when his daughter was sick.

“It was very touching. We were in a very rough spot at that time in our lives, and music therapy was very healing,” Chinn said.

His daughter Tara will help her dad distribute guitars more often now that she’s graduated from college.

“Close to your heart, I guess?” I asked.

“Oh definitely. Definitely. I won’t forget the time I gave the first guitar out,” Tara said, pausing, “I’m not being shy, I’m going to cry.”

And yes, it’s pretty obvious what the rewards are in Ken’s Guitar Project.

Ken Chinn’s Guitar Project has given out over 2,000 guitars all over the country in the last eight years, and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

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