Your old instrument could make a big difference in a child’s life this year

Bringing Music To Life
East Middle School students with instruments donated by the Bringing Music To Life drive.

Sarah Starbuck is an educator at Thornton Middle School. At her school, she witnesses first hand what the decline in funding for education does for programs like music. 

“[It] adversely affects kids who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,” she says.

Last August she picked up flutes, clarinets, alto saxophones, trombones and a snare drum from the Bringing Music to Life (BMTL) Instrument Drive. “This sort of thing is life changing for those kids,” says Starbuck. “[It] means access to music education for my students, which, at my school, would otherwise not be able to.” 

Over 1,000 instruments were donated in the 2022 Instrument Drive. After the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Executive Director Steve Blatt said they “didn't know what to expect, but once again we were inspired by the generosity of Coloradans.” 

Drop off your gently used band or orchestra instrument at one of these locations March 6-19.

Over the summer, nearly 650 band and orchestra instruments were repaired. Teachers drove from all around the state to collect their new instruments at the 2022 BMTL instrument presentation. In total, 44 Colorado schools and music programs in Pueblo, Grand Junction, Manitou Springs, Jefferson County and beyond were awarded instruments. 

Repairing donated instruments is key for success with a young player, but it comes at a cost. Last year’s repair costs totaled $77,000. BMTL expanded its repair partners to meet the demand: Rocky Mountain Music Repair, Luther Strings and Denver Percussion joined Monkton Guitars as repair partners.

“They help us keep our commitment that every instrument is in excellent playable condition before it is given to a child,” says Blatt. Blatt is projecting this year’s repair costs could reach $87,000.

These instrument repair partners also made it possible for Bringing Music to Life to provide last-minute loaner instruments for the Nashville African American Wind Symphony. The group performed in Boulder on February 19 — their first out-of-state performance. After learning they couldn’t transport all of their instruments to Colorado, CPR Classical’s Monika Vischer tapped BMTL, which provided a baritone saxophone, bassoon and string bass. They were repaired and performance ready within days. 

Now is the time to find your old band or orchestra instrument and donate it, especially if you have a larger instrument. “This year we are emphasizing instruments that are traditionally in high demand but short supply to see if we can inspire people to donate them,” says Blatt. “They are tubas, baritones, baritone and tenor saxophones, violas, cellos and double basses.” 

Bringing Music to Life’s 2023 Drive is March 6-19, with donation centers across the state. If you don’t have an instrument to donate, consider giving to the instrument repair fund.

Classical music at your fingertips

Hear CPR Classical by clicking “Listen Live” at the top on this website, or download the Colorado Public Radio app. Listen on your radio to CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, or on radio signals around Colorado. You can also tell your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical."