Cedar Rapids school district begins monthlong instrument drive

Some students practicing on 60-year-old instruments

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Beth Davies sat with a small group of students in the Cedar Rapids Franklin Middle School band room for summer lessons and asked them to make their mouthpieces quack.

The students pulled their lips tight and buzzed, some with cheeks puffing out, in an effort to learn the basics that come before hitting all of the notes on their trumpets.

“The Cedar Rapids School District is very committed and always has been to making sure if a kid wants to do something, like play an instrument, that we make it happen,” said Beth Davies, the music curriculum facilitator for the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

So, the Cedar Rapids school district has begun a monthlong instrument drive to try and bolster its instrument inventory so students have a variety of musical instruments available. The drive began Aug. 1. To date, no instruments had been donated.

Many of the district’s 1,500 middle school band and 800 orchestra students — including several in these summer lessons — use instruments from the district, said Davies.

At Franklin, just less than a third of the students in the band program rent school instruments, which they return when they graduate from middle school.

Some of the instruments are more than 60 years old and the schools don’t always have enough of a certain type of instrument a student wants to play.

“The school instrument program ... it’s primarily geared toward students on free and reduced lunch, but that’s not always the case,” Davies said. “There are some unusual instruments, like a string bass, that are very large ... sometimes those (instruments) aren’t easy to rent at a music store.”

The school district can accept any type of instrument, even pianos, and in varying conditions. Davies said that the district does have some repair funds that can go toward donated instruments that need work.

To donate an instrument through the end of August, drop it off at the Educational Leadership and Support Center, 2500 Edgewood Rd. NW, Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tax deduction forms for the donation also will be located at the main office.

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