Giving the Gift of Music
By Andrea Schmitt, Development Manager at the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.
Alex was an 8th grader who loved playing clarinet in middle school band. Raised by a single mother, his family could not maintain paying the rental fee for the instrument so he could practice at home. Alex’s school did not have enough instruments for every student in the band, so sometimes up to 3 students would have to share instruments and even mouthpieces, making home practice a challenge. Alex took it upon himself to make money by playing outside of the local supermarket with his baseball cap on the floor for tips. While he raised enough to keep the clarinet, Alex is but one of thousands of students all over the country who are passionate about music but do not have access to instruments at school.
The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation keeps music alive in our schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs, giving youngsters the many benefits of music education. We believe access to high quality music programs helps kids be better students, inspires creativity and expression, and can give many at-risk children a reason to stay in school. The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation was inspired by the acclaimed motion picture Mr. Holland’s Opus, the story of the profound effect a dedicated music teacher had on generations of students. The film's composer, Michael Kamen, started the foundation in 1996 as his commitment to the future of music education. We donate musical instruments to school music programs that can’t afford to replace often decades- old or broken instruments or buy new ones to accommodate all kids who want to play. For kids like Alex, whose family struggles to provide the basics, having access to a musical instrument is an unaffordable luxury. But with your help, music doesn’t have to be a luxury – it can be a reality in these children’s lives.
- “The grant means the world to us at Albemarle Road Middle School. Music and the arts are vital in providing the best education to our students and this grant will make it possible to expand our music programs to better serve our student population. No longer will we have to share instruments between students or even have to turn student away because we do not have the equipment needed. Thank you again to The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and their dedication to supporting our music program, and programs like us across the country.” -Mr. Jonathan Todd, Director of Strings
- “The impact that Mr Holland's Opus Foundation has had on my music program at P.S. 48 has been tremendous. In previous years membership of the band was very limited. There were many students who could not participate because of the cost of renting their own instrument. The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation has allowed me to involve many more students in my music program. This generous donation brought tears to my eyes. The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation has given our students the power to create beautiful music. They have given us a chance to change many lives.” -Ms. Melissa Salguero, Music Teacher
- “This amazing gift of instruments positively impacts students in many ways. Our mission is to eliminate generational poverty in Dinuba, California through education. I believe that music education opens doors to our students that would otherwise be closed. Our school had only 7 instruments to loan to students who wanted to be in instrumental music class. Due to the economic status of the majority of families in our community, purchasing or renting an instrument is not feasible. This gift of 38 instruments allows our students to participate in music education without the burden of cost. You have helped us to expose more children to music, positive activities, belonging to a team, confidence building, peer recognition, and a sense of accomplishment. The students will have access to future opportunities to perform, compete, travel, and even earn scholarships due to the strong start they can now have at our school. I cannot thank you enough for helping me to help our students for years to come. This gift will be life-changing for our Kennedy Eagles.” -Ms. Cynthia James, Principal
You can help us by choosing The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation as your favorite charity on eBay and, by doing so, you can help us to put more instruments into the hands of kids, and help to bring music into their lives, one school at a time.