By Tess Malijenovsky
Concert band students at Whale Branch Middle School were surprised with brand new band instruments courtesy of Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which donates new and refurbished musical instruments to community and school music programs across the nation.
Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation holds that children thrive when given the chance to learn and play music, and that putting instruments into their hands improves the quality of their education and their lives. And yes, it was inspired by the 1995 motion picture about a beloved high school music teacher, works to give youngsters the many benefits of music education, help them to be better students and inspire creativity and expression. Over the last 15 years, more than 15,000 new and refurbished instruments have been donated to 1,260 school and community music programs across the country.
Whale Branch Middle School Principal Matt Hunt said the school applied for a grant last fall to purchase expensive instruments that most students could not afford and to refurbish larger band instruments that need repairs due to years of constant use.
“A key part of the grant application was demonstrating the strength of our school’s program,” Hunt said, “and that wasn’t a problem because roughly one of every four students here is involved in our music program. This is a really exciting day for our kids.”
Hunt said the school’s music program received two trombones, two flutes, two clarinets and one concert snare drum. In addition, the school received $1,500 for repairs to musical instruments.
Just two weeks ago, Whale Branch Middle also received the national TAP Founder’s Award — a $50,000 prize — before more than 1,000 educators and policy leaders at the 12th National Teacher Advancement Program Conference in Los Angeles.