Delaware School of Music Raises $ 10 Million to Support Families in Need


The Delaware School of Music has 10 million reasons to be excited after receiving a big gift from a woman in Wilmington.

The $ 10 million donation, the largest in the history of the music school, aims to make classes more affordable for underserved families, the school said Tuesday morning.

The gift was offered by former Wilmington resident Mary Ellen Northrop to establish the Mary Ellen Northrop Endowment Fund for Music Education.

A Youth performs at the Music School of Delaware's Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on January 15, 2021.

Christina von Duyke, violin teacher at the music school, said the opportunity for families to receive this financial boost was music to her ears.

“I think this endowment, at least for me, as a teacher, is just great. What a gift, ”said von Duyke, 39, of Wilmington. “I see nothing that can make a teacher happier than knowing that students from all walks of life can take private lessons and have the opportunity to do something that makes them feel alive. “

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von Duyke first attended music school at the age of 3, and she also received a scholarship which helped her attend classes there.

The violin teacher has 11 siblings. And while not all of her siblings took classes with her at school, some did.

A young performer works her magic during the Honorary Awards recital at the Music School of Delaware in Wilmington on May 27, 2021.

von Duyke understands first-hand how much financial aid can change a life, she said, as having access to music lessons at a young age set her on the path to earning a master’s degree in performance. violin at the University of Delaware, as part of Xiang Gao’s training.

“My parents sacrificed themselves so that we could go,” said the violin teacher. “Besides having this wonderful scholarship, I think if the scholarship hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have been an option for them to make that choice.”

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Larry Hamermesh, treasurer of the school of music board of trustees, said for a student to qualify for the Mary Ellen Northrop Endowment, a family’s income must be less than $ 150,000. Aid is limited to a maximum of two years per student.

Who is this rich woman?

Northrop was a music lover and transplant native from Wilmington who was born in Westfield, New York on February 23, 1943. But she grew up in Ripley, New York, where her family ran a large fruit, grape, and dairy farm, by his obituary.

She received her Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, from Syracuse University in 1965 and her Masters of Library Science from Rutgers University in 1966.

Northrop was the Reference Librarian at the University of Iowa and Douglass College at Rutgers University, and Supervisor of the Technical Services Department at the Plainfield, New Jersey Public Library.

Kate M. Ransom has been President and CEO of the Music School of Delaware since 1999. Prior to coming to Delaware, she served nine years as Director of the Music Division at the Harid Conservatory in Florida, and three years previously at Settlement Music. School.  of Philadelphia, she was professor of violin and chamber music and coordinator of chamber music.

She was also a budget analyst at the Erie, Pennsylvania plant of General Electric Company and a financial and tax analyst at DuPont Company.

Kate Ransom, CEO of the music school, said Northrop studied clarinet in music school as a youth and enjoyed singing in choirs throughout her life.

“Ms. Northrop was an only child, never married, inherited substantial wealth, was highly educated, lived modestly and was attentive to the management of her financial assets throughout her life,” said Ransom.

The Music School was one of the many organizations Northrop remembered in their estate planning. Before her death, she did not disclose the amount or extent of the endowment to anyone at the music school.

A youth performs in the Honorary Awards recital at the Music School of Delaware in Wilmington on May 27.

She was never an annual school donor, Ransom said, but approached school staff in 2013 to inquire, generally, about setting up a scholarship fund.

“She chose the music school as the recipient with no face-to-face meetings or in-person interactions – all of our correspondence with her (which was extensive) was done by mail, email and phone,” Ransom said.

Northrop died on June 29, 2021 at her home in Wilmington. She was 78 years old.

“Leave a legacy”

The Music School, with branches in Wilmington and Milford, offers a wide range of education, including vocal and instrument lessons, early childhood music for the youngest, music therapy, and lessons. of music.

There are also musical ensembles like the Delaware Youth Symphony Orchestra, two women’s choirs, two jazz vocal groups, and the relatively new MELODY (Music Enriching the Lives of Delaware Youth) program and other music courses.

A masked pianist plays the keys during the Honorary Awards recital at the Music School of Delaware in Wilmington on May 27, 2021.

The music school plans to award scholarships to students that young people can use from the fall, Hamermesh said.

To obtain a grant, families must submit applications to demonstrate and confirm their eligibility according to the guidelines of the trust.

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Application forms will be available by spring for interested students and their families.

Ransom hopes the funds will help make an impact on the lives of young music lovers.

“We are so grateful to Mary Ellen Northrop for leaving a legacy that will make a profound difference in the lives of young Delaware musicians.”

For more information visit or (302) 762-132

Andre Lamar is the reports / lifestyle reporter. If you have an interesting story idea, email Andre Lamar at [email protected]

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