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Amid arts push, Detroit schools want your old tubas, trumpets, and more

That old trumpet may be doing little more than collecting dust in your basement, but it could be just what a Detroit student needs this fall, the city’s main district is telling local residents. 

Amid Detroit Public Schools Community District’s recent investment in arts and music education, it is encouraging people to donate their gently used instruments. The school system is especially in need of clarinets, trumpets, tubas, cellos, and violas. 

“This initiative grew out of the observable need in our schools’ music programs,” said Deputy Superintendent Iranetta Wright. “ Students need instruments to play.”

The district is accepting new, or gently used, instruments from the community to “compliment the already repaired and replaced fleet of instruments the district owns,” Wright said. 

Tim Reade, a retired health coach from suburban Huntington Woods, Michigan, says he answered the call as soon as he could.

Reade had attended a Christmas performance last year, featuring students from Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary-Middle School. He says that once their teacher, Markita Moore, told him about the district’s two-year-old effort to promote music in schools, he knew exactly what to do. 

His son had played the trumpet in high school, but the instrument has sat largely untouched since 2006. With his son’s permission, Reade and his wife decided to donate it. 

“Having been involved with music when my son was playing, I saw the value that it brought to the kids to be able to participate,” he said. “And I know that those instruments can be expensive, so I thought it would be great to provide it to somebody, and it may set them on a path to be a lifelong trumpet player.”

During the past school year, the district has restored the arts programs in 78 elementary and middle schools, according to the school system. There are plans for all 22 high schools in the district to have a performance ensemble soon.

Wright says that the initiative began because of the district’s commitment to the “whole child.” 

Building the arts for the district’s more than 50,000 students “has been long overdue,” she said. “We are proud to be making this happen.”

The district has already received donations from partners like the Jazz Fest, DTE’s Beacon Park Foundation, MSU Community Music School, and many other local businesses. 

Wright said instruments will be dispersed at schools throughout the district, based on need, regardless of whether the school previously had a band or ensemble. 

“We are committed to ensuring this is successful through our own efforts, but are asking the community to help,” said Wright, who noted that the district has earmarked funds to replace instruments in schools that don’t receive sufficient donations. “Every donation goes directly to the hands of a student in our district.”

For more information about donating an instrument, go here