Five years ago, I started the South Brunswick Schools' Instrument Bank. The idea came to me after I gave my daughter's drum kit to her elementary school when she was done playing and wanted to move onto other things. The music teacher remarked to me many times over the next several months that it had gone to a fifth grader whose parents could not afford to rent a drum kit, even though he desperately wanted to play.
If you've ever set foot in any South Brunswick School (or read anything about the district) you know that we pride ourselves on our award winning music program. Our kids start in elementary school and the vast majority continue into middle school, even though that music program requires a minimum of twice a week rehearsals at seven a.m. Still, many go on to join our outstanding high school marching band and top rated orchestras.
And while the lessons are provided at the schools, the fact is that the majority of students need to rent or purchase an instrument to play. Sure, the schools have some older instruments available, but why shouldn't a child get to choose his or her own instrument, like all the other kids can, instead of having to take whatever is around that's free? Why shouldn't he or she be able to practice all summer, instead of having to give the instrument back at the end of the school year, only to hope it will be available again come fall? And what happens when a fifth grader moves up to the middle school? What if the middle school doesn't have the same instrument available?
That's why the Instrument Bank works so well. Kids are encouraged to keep the instruments and to play throughout all of their school years. If we don't have a particular instrument they would like, we try to find it for them.
So happy fifth anniversary, Instrument Bank. And to everyone who's donated in the past, we appreciate it. If you have an instrument you'd like to donate now, please contact me at JWRWAND2@aol.com, subject line Instrument Bank. Give the gift of music.