Update - March 26, 2021: The 2021 Bringing Music To Life Instrument Drive was a huge success, with over 1,000 instruments donated across Colorado! Thank you, Colorado Public Radio listeners for stepping up during this trying time. ** APPLICATION DEADLINE IS MARCH 31 for any music teachers at Colorado Title 1 schools of need. Learn more here.
Steve Blatt was not about to let a world-wide pandemic get in the way of outfitting kids in need with instruments.
Last March, the Instrument Drive he runs every year had just gotten underway for it's annual two week collect-a-thon when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. That same day DU, CSU and CU all moved classes online. And every day after that for weeks, companies sent their workers home, ski resorts closed, everything closed, including the Instrument Drive.
"It just shut down," says Steve Blatt, director of the Bringing Music to Life Instrument Drive. "It was like someone just turned off the tap. Not only the instrument donations but the financial donations as well."
But as time wore on and things began to open up again, Steve's phone started ringing with people wanting to know how they could donate their old instrument.
"My porch got a little crowded and my study looked more like a warehouse for while," Steve recalls.
And slowly but surely, the Instrument Drive was able to collect, repair and donate nearly 537 instruments to 36 schools in need.
"Bless the hearts of teachers. These are special people anyhow, but for the instrument drive they drove to our storage unit one by one to pick up their instruments." Some driving as far away as Mancos, near Durango, to pick up their instruments.
This year the Instrument Drive is back to having 15 drop off sites. To find a dropoff location near you, go to BringingMusicToLife.org.
If you don’t have an instrument to donate, give instead to the repair fund. The average cost to repair an instrument is about $165 (and that's at the steep discount rate they're given). Last year, even with fewer instruments, repairs cost about $70,000.
The 2021 Bringing Music to Life Instrument Drive is March 8-21.
Colorado Public Radio launched the annual instrument drive in 2009. It has since spun off to its own nonprofit headed by former CPR Classical host Steve Blatt.