WQXR Smashes Goal in Musical Instrument Drive at Half-Way Point

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

People make donations to the WQXR Instrument Drive at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. People make donations to the WQXR Instrument Drive at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. (Kim Nowacki/WQXR)

Half-way into a 10-day Musical Instrument Drive, WQXR has surpassed its goal of collecting 1,000 gently used instruments to give to New York City Public School students.

The station has collected more than 1,000 instruments as of midday on Wednesday. But listeners are encouraged to continue to support the effort; instruments can be brought to drop-off locations throughout the New York City area through April 7.

Beyond the hard numbers, the drive has drawn numerous personal stories. The New Jersey Star-Ledger and the Daily Record both reported on a Milburn resident who gave more than 80 instruments that belonged to her late husband, a band director. A Forbes reporter chronicled how she donated a violin that belonged to her late grandfather, coming to terms both with the family heirloom and her relative's legacy. And New York Times classical music critic Zachary Woolfe wrote about how he gave his cello, parting with a part of his musical past in the process.

Several local television stations covered the kick-off events last weekend including Fox 5, NY1 and Telemundo; Pix 11 reporter Magee Hickey even brought a flute and talked her way into a lesson with James Galway.

WQXR's assistant program director Mike Shobe asked a number of instrument donors about the importance of musical instruments in their lives. At last week's kick-off, Kathy Dean explained why she donated a clarinet:

Listener Hedy Sloan Stempler talks about why she donated her late mother's violin:

If you donated an instrument, please tell us why and share any stories in the comments box below. Or you can Tweet us using hashtag #GiveMusicNYC.


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Comments [18]

On Saturday, I stopped by The Bronx Museum for the Arts and dropped off my violin. I grew up in the Bronx, and attended PS 78. Back then (late ‘60s), our school had an orchestra, band and chorus; music was fully integrated in to our curriculum. I still remember when we went to choose our instruments; they were set up in the gym, and we were allowed to walk around and see which one would suit. I chose violin. Spring concerts were a big deal, and an event which was attended by our entire family. At JHS 135, orchestra practice was before class, so we had to go to school early. Fast forward to here and now. My violin lived on the shelf in my bedroom for a long time. Rather than mounting it in a display case, your instrument drive made me realize that this was a much better way to preserve it and give it a future. So, thank you for coordinating this effort, because it brought me happiness when I left my violin (the guards who received it were very respectful and careful handling it, which was greatly appreciated). I can only hope that some time in the future, another adult will have become a lover of classical music through their exposure to a musical education during their childhood.

Apr. 07 2014 05:47 PM
Nancy Greenbaum from New York, NY

I was very sentimental when I left my classical guitar at drop-off site this morning. I was given this guitar by my parents as a young student 50 years ago, loved it and took care of it for all this time, but now I have not played it in years (although I have always hoped I would find the time to get back to it). Now it is time for another young aspiring guitarist to have the chance to love it.

Apr. 06 2014 09:25 PM
Frieda Holober

I so enjoyed this project. I brought five instruments collected from friends to Sam Ashe in Paramus. A suggestion to make it easier: provide donors with tax forms so that all the work can be done ahead of time. I had the forms because I asked in advance. It would have been a struggle if I had had to open up every case and search for serial numbers in the store. I will gladly do this next year.

Apr. 06 2014 08:26 AM

I was slightly disappointed that recorders could not be included. I have two very nice wooden recorders (soprano and tenor) that I inherited that could use a good home.

Any advice? Thanks,


Apr. 06 2014 03:25 AM
Janet Behning from Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Several years ago my non-musician father gave me the gift a new viola, replacing the student viola that I had used for forty years. While I love my new instrument, I kept thinking about my abandoned instrument. It deserved to still be played. I was delighted to find about the instrument drive and send my old viola on its way to a new student. My father would have been pleased as well. Thank you for organizing.

Apr. 05 2014 08:32 PM
Alice Tsui

Hello, I am the founding music teacher at PS 532 New Bridges Elementary in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I was wondering if and how my school would be able to obtain some of the donated instruments as I am trying to start a strings music program? You can find out more about us at: www.ps532newbridges.org, www.facebook.com/NewBridges532 and www.youtube.com/ps532newbridges. Please let me know! Thank you!

Apr. 05 2014 03:44 PM
Michael R Molnar from Warren, NJ

Taking advantage of this opportunity from WQXR to help aspiring musicians, I donated two violins that I made. Ten years ago, I started making violins after retiring from being an astronomer. The tonewood that I selected for these violins is from Italy and Slovakia. The varnish is my own secret recipe that I developed over the years. I did all of the carving patterned after the violin shapes of Stradivari. These important ingredients affect the sound and look of violins. These custom-made violins should help talented young musicians achieve a higher level of performance in the course of their studies. My reward would be to hear from one of these musicians who noticed my name inside their violin.

Apr. 05 2014 12:46 PM
Louis from Manhattan

While it is good that so many people are donating their instruments it makes me sad that so many have given up playing them.

Apr. 05 2014 09:41 AM
Sally from Brooklyn

Today I donated my oboe to the WQXR musical instrument drive. It had not been played in well over a decade. Still, it was hard to let go of it. I wanted to play the oboe from a very young age. The dream was made reality because I was fortunate to attend a public school that was able to provide me with an instrument (and upgrade it as my talent unfolded). I hope with my gift, some young NYC student will learn to love the oboe - and classical music - as much as I do. Thanks, Jeff Spurgeon, for persuading me to do this today.

Apr. 04 2014 08:50 PM
af from Nassau County, Long Island

Great to hear so many instruments are being donated! A drive like this should be done each year!

Many thanks for WQXR for holding this drive!

Apr. 04 2014 08:15 PM
Catherine marra from Brooklyn, Ny

I have a up right piano needs tlc
the name is Miller
can someone come and get it?????
I live in Brooklyn, Ny 11203
Let me know, thank you.

Apr. 04 2014 12:25 PM
Don deKoven

Seems to me that instruments donated by New Jerseyans and surrendered at New Jersey receiving sites should be given to New Jersey kids, not to NYC kids. There are lots of kids in Newark, Jersey City, and environs who very much need the benefits of introduction to classical music life.

Apr. 04 2014 10:54 AM

@Joanne - Thank you for your inquiry. The closest location to you would be the Paramus Sam Ash store. As for the deadline, if you are interested in donating but cannot get to a drop off location before April 7, please contact: Instrumentdrive@wqxr.org.
Details on drop-off locations here:

Apr. 04 2014 09:53 AM
joanne rodland from ringwood NJ

I am looking for the closest NJ drop off point...and also asking if the deadline can be extended...I will be unable to obtain these instruments..left by a recently deceased music teacher before your deadline but would like to have them go to the drive. Please advise. Thank you.

Apr. 04 2014 09:35 AM

@Martin: there is a location right in Downtown Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Music School. Details here:

Thank you for your interest!

Apr. 03 2014 05:37 PM
Martin L Schneider from 12 Monroe Place

I am in downtown Brooklyn and have a good banjo.
Where is the drop off???

Apr. 03 2014 05:34 PM
Frieda Holober from Teaneck, New Jersey

I collected two flutes, an oboe, a violin and a guitar. I sing with two choruses in New Jersey so I sent emails to all the members and that's how I got the instruments. I will take the instruments to the drop-off location. This way, five people don't have to do an errand. That was probably an incentive. All they had to do was hand me the instrument. WQXR has made this whole process incredibly easy. What a great way to help others. Hope you do this next year.

Apr. 02 2014 07:20 PM
James Francois from Yorktown Heights, NY

My wife and I met as viola players in a pit orchestra. We found out that we both had the same teacher. Her viola is (was) a shorty, but just right for her. Mine is (was) a longie (19.5") but just right for me. Hers was some unknown but likely European maker; mine was brand new, made in Czechoslovakia just after WWII. Both of us played in the Stockton, CA, symphony (at different times)and she later in the Bronx Symphony. We hope that some students will use and love these instruments as much as we did.

Vlas are us!

Apr. 02 2014 03:11 PM

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