Bruce Buruma, executive director for the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools speaks at the school board office Thursday about the instrument drive that collected 81 instruments for the school district. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Donations put musical instruments in students’ hands

Big Musical Instrument Drive a success

More Red Deer Public School students will be making music thanks to the donation of 81 instruments through the Big Musical Instrument Drive.

In the summer the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools put out the call for instruments collecting dust in people’s closets and garages for students who can’t afford to join band.

Bruce Buruma, foundation executive director, said the instruments have been appraised at about $30,000. To buy them brand new would cost close to $100,000.

“We were expecting maybe 50 instruments. They slowly trickled in but then there was some momentum. It shows their commitment to make sure kids get a good quality education,” Buruma said on Thursday when district music teachers from middle and high school band programs selected instruments to take back to their schools.

He said a lot of people have strong attachments to their instruments and donations often came with a story. One mother whose daughter died five years ago decided her daughter would have appreciated her clarinet going to help students.

“We had a person who was involved in an accident where he had a brain injury. He had instruments he had a passion for but can no longer play. Well it’s time to pass those on and let the music play.”

A few of the instruments can’t be repaired or won’t be played. A C melody saxophone from about 1905 was donated that won’t make it into a band, but it’s a nice art or historical piece for students, he said.

“It’s kind of like a Edsel. That’s really what the C melody saxophone was. It really was a dud.”

A wide variety of instruments came in, everything from violins to Fender guitars.

“There’s a euphonium in there. There’s a flugelhorn in there. Even some amps came in and some sound equipment came in that we’ll be able to use in our programs.”

He said the donations will give students an opportunity to choose their instrument.

“We know some programs right now if you were to start into the band program, you’re playing the trombone whether you want to or not.”

Buruma said learning to play an instrument is beneficial to students in different ways. It supports brain development, teaches math, and promotes soft skills like perseverance, being part of a team, making a commitment.

Jennifer Mann, music instructor at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, said the instruments will really help students at middle schools in the city’s north end.

“Having taught middle school before I know when the kids first open up the cases they are quite excited and really looking forward to getting their hands on them and making some noise. I’m not sure about their parents,” chuckled Mann.

“That’s our job to make it sound good.”

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