The Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools collected 81 used musical instruments, with a combined estimated value of $30,000 for new band programs across the district.
Some of the instruments put on display this week included trombones, saxophones, trumpets, guitars, amplifiers and a tuba.
The goal is to put them in the hands of students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access music education.
“We’re just very, very grateful this community has come forward,” said the Foundation’s executive director Bruce Buruma.
“It does support our equity priority. It’s an important project of the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools. And we just want to let the community know how valuable these instruments are.”
Not all of them will end up being played. Buruma said some will end up being used in the metal shop or art studio.
“Some of them are good. Some of them are not so good. But they’re here. People have done it with passion, commitment and for that, we’re grateful.”
There were some interesting personal stories behind the donated items.
One clarinet belonged to a mother’s late daughter.
“It took five years for her to do that because she thought her daughter would have done the same thing,” he said.
The Foundation also received a tuba and a saxophone from a man who lost his memory in a gliding accident.
“Just recently he started to get some of his memory back but not enough to remember how to play, which is why he doesn’t need the instrument and donated it to us,” Buruma said.
Allison Klavano and Calista Lonsdale-Pangle, music teachers at Normandeau and G.H. Dawe respectively, were happy to see the added inventory.
As former elementary schools that have transitioned into middle schools, their band programs are relatively new.
Lonsdale-Pangle’s Gr. 6 band program is the first of its kind in about 15 years. This means those students will get to stay in house. Until now, they’ve been bussed to Normandeau.
Klavano said the school doesn’t like to charge fees for programs. But access to a musical instrument is a barrier to the education.
“We want to provide them band free of charge. This allows us to do that,” Klavano said.
They note that music education costs money and not just for the instruments. Music stands, reeds and cork grease for woodwind instruments, and the sheet music itself, all adds up.
The benefits of playing music however, are well documented.
For one, there’s a correlation with higher math scores.
But there are also life skills such as resiliency, commitment and dedication — music is the vehicle through which these are taught, Buruma said.
The Foundation is an arms-length charitable organization from the school district that provides funding for programs that do not receive public money. Like the district, the organization has three key priorities: literacy, high school completion and equity.
Last summer, organizers held a musical instrument drive, asking the community to donate quality used instruments to help students whose families wouldn’t otherwise be able to provide them.
The drive involved several partners. While schools were closed during the summer, instruments were collected at fire stations in the City.
The Optimist Club funded the repairs, done by 53rd Street Music, which also appraised the instruments’ value so that charitable tax receipts could be issued.
As well, Buruma said the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra is partnering to provide some enrichment programs.
Instruments continue to be donated and Buruma estimates 100 will have been collected by the end of the year.