Matthew Marks, guitarist for the band The Company Stores

A Charleston musician wants to help children discover music with free instruments.

Originally published in West Virginia Focus magazine

Matthew Marks, guitarist for the popular Charleston band The Company Stores, remembers his first instrument fondly—it was a cheap electric model, bummed from a friend’s older brother. “I played the heck out of that thing,” he says. Once his parents saw his burgeoning talent, they got him a better instrument for Christmas. He took lessons and eventually studied music in college.

Marks knows he was lucky. His family could afford to invest in his creative pursuits. But for many families in West Virginia, buying a musical instrument is an unimaginable luxury. And for children in those families, Marks has a heart to help.

The rocker is working to set up a charity to connect children from low-income families with free instruments. It’s called Noteworthy Kids. “I didn’t want there to be kids out there that wanted to be able to play an instrument and couldn’t afford it, or wanted lessons and couldn’t afford it,” he says. “I’ve definitely seen the importance of that in a kid’s life, to have that passion about something and being able to pursue it.”

Noteworthy Kids has already collected a handful of instruments and is looking for more. Marks also hopes to partner with fellow Charleston musician Mark Hornbaker, who runs Imagination Foundation, a nonprofit that provides underprivileged children with free music lessons. “There’s a lot of things coming together—we just need kids,” he says.

Marks is now looking for West Virginia schools, churches, and after-school programs to help Noteworthy Kids find children who need instruments.

For more information about Noteworthy Kids and how to donate instruments or connect children with instruments, visit The Company Stores website.

Written by Zack Harold

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Zack Harold
Written by Zack Harold
Zack Harold is a southern West Virginia native. He covered education, health, and government at the Charleston Daily Mail before becoming the newspaper’s features editor. He joined New South Media in 2015, became managing editor of WV Living in January 2016, and took over as managing editor of Wonderful West Virginia in July 2016.