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Calling All Trombones, Flutes, and Drums

May 6, 2014

It's time for both the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts and San Francisco Music in Schools Today instrument drives.

Up North, the time and place will be May 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Montgomery Village, 911 Village Court, Santa Rosa.

Each year at this lively event, members of the community are encouraged to bring musical instruments to donate to the Center’s Music For Schools program, which maintains an “instrument lending library,” to share those with over 300 children in the community who might not otherwise have access to musical instruction.

Donations contribute to the Center’s innovative Music For Schools program, which currently maintains an extensive collection of more than 400 instruments available for use including wind, brass, percussion, and stringed instruments and educational resources. The Center works directly with schools and instrumental music teachers to place these instruments with students who could not otherwise afford to participate in their school’s band or orchestra program. Music For Schools is the only instrument lending library in the North Bay, and one of the few in the nation.

The background to the program: In 1980, the San Francisco Board of Education was planning to eliminate the elementary school music program. Several concerned citizens, including S.F. Chronicle music critic and SFCV founder Robert Commanday, approached Sir Yehudi Menuhin and members of the San Francisco Symphony to make a presentation to the Board. After Sir Menuhin's inspired address, the Board gave a standing ovation and restored the music budget. San Francisco Instrumental and Theatrical for Youth Fund was formed by members of the original coalition shortly thereafter, including founding President Alden Gilchrist, Louise McTernan, and Joan Murray. In 1983, funding of choral programs began in San Francisco public schools.

In 1989, the program's name was changed to Music in Schools Today, supporting many choral, instrumental and comprehensive arts programs. In-school artist programs have reached 21,000 children and youth annually throughout the Bay Area, developing instrumental music, opera, theater and visual arts programs and returning to our original role in advocacy.

Slightly south of us, Music at Kohl Mansion is the Upper Peninsula drop-off location for Music in Schools Today. The instruments are collected by Music at Kohl Mansion and distributed through the schools in San Mateo County.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at