Colorado Public Radio: Find your old band or orchestra instrument a new home in a Colorado music program

March 6, 2024

By Jessie Jacobs, March 4, 2024, for Colorado Public Radio

CPR/Karla Walker

Last year was another banner year for the Bringing Music to Life Instrument Drive. Coloradans donated 1,100 used instruments that were repaired when possible and donated to schools. Individuals and organizations also gave monetary donations vital to funding repairs, making 2023 the second most successful year in BTML’s 13-year history.

These instruments have made a difference for over 20,000 students in more than 300 music programs. During this last year it was clear just how valuable Bringing Music to Life is to educators across the state.

BMTL Executive Director Christine Andresen says the success of 2023 is in the growth of some returning music programs. “Programs that had started kind of small, when they had gotten our help over a couple of years… Kids were telling other kids, their band was becoming more popular, we’ve had teachers show us programs that are growing in popularity and in participation.”

One of these repeat educators, Andrew Campo, travelled from Cortez to Denver for Bringing Music To Life’s instrument presentation in August, where 770 instruments were awarded to 52 music programs. Campo and his music program at Montezuma-Cortez Middle School have turned to Bringing Music to Life five times in the last 12 years. Currently, 200 of the school’s 550 students are enrolled in band. Campo credits Bringing Music to Life for making that possible.

Read the full story here.

Washington Park Profile: “For the Love of Music”

March 6, 2024

by Christy Steadman, March 5, 2024, for the Washington Park Profile

When I was in elementary school (fourth and/or fifth grade, I can’t exactly recall), I played the clarinet. I’m not sure why I didn’t stick with it. Perhaps my passion for the written word took over, but I loved my instrument so much that I even gave it a name: Clara the Clarinet.  

Each year, there is an instrument drive that allows you to share your love of an instrument with a music student. It’s called Bringing Music to Life and, this year, it takes place March 4-16.

The drive takes gently-used musical instruments and gives them to underfunded school music programs across Colorado.

What is so cool about this drive is that although the instruments are given to the schools, they are assigned to a student for the entire time the student is in the school’s music program. That means the student gets to treat it as their own — and take responsibility for it – because they take the instrument home with them for practice and, whenever they want to, elsewhere, like to jam with friends, learning from peers.

Those who do not have an instrument to donate can give funds to the drive’s instrument repair fund.

I’ve interviewed the founder of Bringing Music to Life, Steve Blatt (you may recognize his name from his time with Colorado Public Radio many years back), a couple of times. Something he said stuck with me: the repair fund is just as important as the instrument part of the  drive.

Every used instrument is going to need some sort of repair, he said, and beginning music students don’t know the difference between an instrument in “excellent playable condition” and one that’s not functioning properly. For example, if an instrument is not sounding right because it is in less-than-good condition, the student may get frustrated with it, thinking they lack talent and that might cause them to give up. So, it’s important that every student not only gets an instrument, but that it is in “excellent playable condition.”

Bringing Music to Life is a nonprofit, and it partners with a number of local businesses — Denver Percussion, Luther Strings, Monkton Guitars and Rocky Mountain Music Repair – that provide repair services on the instruments for a discounted rate.

Bringing Music to Life accepts nearly any type of musical instrument – particularly those used in band and orchestra. There are drop-off locations across the metro area, with the two in Denver being Twist & Shout, 2508 E. Colfax Ave. in the Congress Park neighborhood; and Luther Strings, 2018 S. Pontiac Way near the Virginia Village/Indian Creek area. Donations for the repair fund can be made online.

Read the full story on the Washington Park Profile website by clicking here.


January 23, 2024

In line with the mission of Bringing Music to Life, the four individuals featured in the film, “The Last Repair Shop”, ensure that no student is deprived of the joy of music. In their words what they do is “not just instrument repair.” It prevents the unthinkable. “Students without instruments? No, no not in our city!”

It is almost as if these folks are playing our song, telling the Bringing Music to Life story. This inspiring documentary gets to the heart of what we do and why we do it.

The film is now available on the LATimes YouTube channel. Watch it here!

Read the following article to learn more.

Presented by L.A. Times Studios and Searchlight Pictures, “The Last Repair Shop” is a documentary short film about the technicians maintaining student instruments in the L.A. Unified School District. Directed by award-winning filmmaker and musician Kris Bowers and Oscar-winning director Ben Proudfoot, the film has been nominated for best documentary short for the 2024 Academy Awards. The nominations were announced this morning via livestream from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The film introduces four characters who have dedicated themselves to look after more than 80,000 student instruments, offering the gift of music to the schoolchildren of Los Angeles.

“‘The Last Repair Shop’ is a love letter to our city. It’s a testament to understanding how broken something is — and fixing it anyway,” wrote Bowers in an introduction to the film. “And it’s a tribute to those who toil away, largely without thanks, in service of helping the next generation grow in harmony.”