Seven years ago, a Brevard High student’s violin was destroyed by weather when she and her family were living in a tent.
The story of this young girl experiencing homelessness, who routinely volunteered to set up Brevard Philharmonic concerts, inspired one of the orchestra’s violinists, Aleta Tisdale, to start a program so students could play music regardless of their financial situation.
“I just had this idea,” said Tisdale. “I wonder how many kids would love to play but can’t afford the instrument?”
On Tuesday, Tisdale and Carole Futrelle, the philharmonic’s board president-elect, delivered the Brevard Philharmonic’s Donate Your Instrument Program’s 100th instrument to Rosman Middle School.
The program collects donated musical instruments, pays to repair them and then gifts them to county schools so teachers can disseminate them each year to students who may borrow them for as long as they stay in class.
In addition to the many flutes, clarinets, drums, saxophones and trumpets, the program also repairs violins, mandolins, guitars and other string instruments.
Hazel Ketcham, one of Rosman’s music teachers and also director of the Mountain School of Strings, was overjoyed on receiving three classical guitars Tuesday.
“No one’s going to get inspired to play classical guitar if we don’t have classical guitars,” said Ketcham, who quickly tuned up the three guitars in front of her students. Ketcham, who is a trained classical guitarist, played a tune on one of the newly restored instruments demonstrating Spanish strumming and chords and then handed them to three students to test out.
“Doesn’t this sound pretty?” she asked them.
A flute was then given to Katerina Canter, director of the Rosman band program, who teaches both the middle and high school bands.
“2021 was an exceptional year,” said Tisdale. “One local family donated 12 instruments and also paid for all restoration costs incurred for their donated instruments, an extremely generous gift to the community.”
Each Transylvania County middle and high school teacher is contacted and instruments are allocated depending on individual school needs.
Since the program’s inception in October 2015, more than $5,000 in cash have also been donated to repair broken strings, clean cases, polish brass, fix cracks and replace pads so instruments can be playable once more.
On Thursday, Tisdale will deliver a saxophone and trombone to Brevard High School setting the count at 103 donated instruments.
“If you know of anybody who has an instrument that isn’t being used, I know somebody who will take that off your hands, and get it repaired and put it in the school,” said Futrelle. “Our neighbor’s children deserve the same opportunity as anybody else. If you learn music now, you’ll love music forever.”
More instruments and money to repair them are needed to continue the program.
Donations will gladly be accepted at the Brevard Philharmonic’s next concert, “Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich,” at the Porter Center on Sept. 25 at 3 p.m.
Visit www.brevardphilharmonic.org or call (828) 884-4221 for more information.