The cost of renting or buying a quality instrument can be a barrier for Pueblo children interested in music.
To help get instruments into the hands of kids who want them but can’t afford them, the Colorado Bringing Music to Life Instrument Drive is accepting donations of gently used instruments through March 20.
Since the program began in 2010, 16 schools in the Pueblo area have received instruments.
Josh Muller, a group teacher at Vineland Middle School, said many of his students would not be able to participate in the group without the items donated at the drive.
“It’s been a lifesaver,” he said. “Many of our students cannot afford instruments and would not experience a band if it weren’t for the Bringing Music to Life Instrument Player directly and the instruments that have were graciously donated.”
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The Pueblo Academy of Arts, another school that received instruments through the drive, has nearly 30 trumpets, 11 flutes, nine clarinets, three tenor saxophones and several cellos in its inventory, thanks to the drive.
“Sometimes they (Bringing Music to Life) just have leftover unclaimed instruments,” said Lyman Bushkovski, professor of instrumental music at PAA. “They called and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this left, do you want it? “”
“I said, ‘What, three flutes, a cello and a tenor? Yeah, give it away,’ he said. “‘Bring it here’, ’cause if it doesn’t stay in this room , he will likely go to one of our other schools in the district through inter-district loans.”
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Steve Blatt, executive director of Bringing Music to Life, started the instrument player in 2010 while hosting a classical music program with Colorado Public Radio. Over 6,500 instruments were donated statewide.
The donations go primarily to schools eligible for Title I, a program supporting elementary and secondary education programs with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students.
“A lot of Title I schools don’t have a lot of money to apply to arts, music, etc.,” Blatt said. “You could say that almost every program in Colorado doesn’t have adequate funding for orchestra and band. That’s the way it is.”
Pueblo D60 programs that have received reader instruments include PAA, Centennial High School, Central High School, Corwin International Magnet School, East High School, Haaf Elementary, Heaton Middle School, Risley International Academy of Innovation, Roncalli STEM Academy, and South High School .
Heroes Academy K-8 also received instruments before closing in 2017.
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In addition to Vineland, schools in Pueblo County School District 70 that received instruments include Avondale Elementary, Pleasant View Middle School, Rye High School and Sierra Vista Elementary.
“Probably 95%” of PAA ensemble instrument students use school-provided instruments, Bushkovski said.
“Most of them are good instruments” donated by Colorado Bringing Music to Life, Bushkovski said.
Eighth grade AAP student Matilda Kuble, who previously played the flute, developed a preference for the saxophone when she played an instrument donated to her school by Bringing Music to Life.
“Although it has a few bumps, it’s not like a brand new shiny horn, it still works for me and helps me play and express myself,” she said.
Bringing Music to Life accepts donations of brass, strings, guitars, electronic keyboards, percussion and wind instruments. They do not accept donations of grand pianos or organs.
Community members can drop off instruments at the Pueblo 60 School District Administration Building, 315 W. 11th St., from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, through March 20.
Those who do not have an instrument can make monetary donations to the organization’s repair funds.
While the deadline for donations is March 20, schools can apply to receive instruments until March 31.
Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached by email at [email protected]