The Montreal Public Library is sharing the music.

Eight local library branches launched musical instrument lending libraries Monday, aiming to put musical instruments in the hands of the Montreal community.

The free program will allow beginners and seasoned musicians alike to borrow guitars, keyboards, violins, ukuleles, drums and xylophones among other instruments.

The instruments will be on loan free of charge to members of any of the eight branches of the Montreal Public Library: Du Boisé, Georges-Vanier, La Petite-Patrie, Maison culturelle et communautaire, Plateau-Mont-Royal, Saint-Léonard, Saul-Bellow and Verdun.

Members of the Montreal rock band Simple Plan took part in the announcement, and said having access to music shaped their lives as teenagers.

“When I was about 11, my mom gave me a beautiful red guitar,” said band member Jeff Stinco. “I had a guitar but no CDs, so I would go to the library to get some.”

Stinco said that’s where his love of music was born; the band met in high school and went on to become an international success.

Bandmate Sebastien Lefebvre said all kids should have a chance to play music, even if they don’t become the next famous rock star or professional classical musician.

“It brings a sense of equity. Music should be for everybody,” he said. “We think people should find a passion. For us, it was music.”

On hand for the announcement, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said the program is an opportunity – especially for young people – to broaden cultural horizons.

“We’re using culture as a tool for development,” he said. “You have a lot of kids who maybe already have that passion and maybe we’ll be able to provide that glimpse in their eyes that make a difference, or light that fire.”

The program is part of a national initiative that has helped create musical lending libraries in cities across Canada. One was launched in April in Toronto and another in June in Vancouver.

In concert with the launch of the lending library, there is an instrument donation drive that lasts until Dec. 24. Owners of new or gently used musical instruments may drop them off at one of the following six libraries: Georges-Vanier, La Petite-Patrie, Maison culturelle et communautaire, Plateau-Mont-Royal, Saul-Bellow and Verdun.

“We know that a lot of people who have instruments, guitar for example, they don’t use anymore, and it’s a great way to give a second life to these instruments, and be sure kids or others have access to these instruments,” said Ivan Filion, director of the Montreal Public Library.

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