Anyone who has seen a child fall in love with music knows the lasting impact the art can have on a life. But if children never have access to those instruments, all the love of music in the world won’t do any good.
For the last 13 years, Steve Blatt, executive director of the Bringing Music to Life Instrument Drive, has been working to ensure that students all over the state have instruments to play. And his passion for the cause is just as strong as ever.
“In some ways, we’re just trying to do a better job of what we’ve always done — reach more schools and get more instruments out,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that takes the help of a lot of people to make happen and we’ve always had very generous partners all over the state.”
And while this year’s drive will be Blatt’s last year as the nonprofit’s executive director, he’s remaining on the board. The newly appointed assistant executive director, Christine Andresen, will be taking over and can match Blatt’s dedication to providing the lifelong gift of music.
“There are so many children struggling and people may not know what to do or how to help,” Blatt said. “What’s great about this is it’s a concrete way to have a positive impact on a child’s life.”
Since the drives began, more than 7,500 instruments have been awarded and the organization estimates that more than 18,000 students have benefited from the years of donations.
The 2023 Bringing Music to Life Instrument Drive is running from March 6 through March 19. Participants who have gently-used band and orchestra instruments they no longer play can be taken to any one of 16 donation locations across the state.
All types of band and orchestra instruments are welcome, but tubas, baritones, tenor saxophones, string basses, cellos and violas are all especially needed.
The organization understands that donating what was once an important part of a life can be difficult.
“It can take a bit of time for people to get ready to give up an instrument,” Blatt said. “You remember all the pieces played and the concerts you performed. It’s more than just a piece of wood or metal — it’s a meaningful instrument to them.”
Those who want to support the organization but don’t have an instrument can contribute by donating to the repair fund. All this money goes to the expensive process of repairing and refurbishing donated instruments so they’ll be ready to go for the students who will use them. Bringing Music to Life works with Rocky Mountain Music Repair, Luther Strings, Denver Percussion and Monkton Guitars for repairs.
The 2022 drive provided 684 donated instruments to 45 music programs across the state and there are stories connected with so many of the instruments - stories that can be seen on the cases the instruments are donated in. There are stickers from travels around the country and some people include notes for the new musician that the organization ensures to pass along.
“I am not a musician, but I have experienced the fun, pride in accomplishment and sense of belonging to a creative community which their notes describe,” Andresen said, quoted on the Bringing Music to Life website. “There is not a downside to participating in this.”