Jazz Festival seeks instrument donations

Cost can be a barrier to students who want to join a school band

Playing in a band could open up new musical horizons for local students, if they can afford it. To help ensure those talents are tapped, the Medford Jazz Festival wants people to check their closets.

"There are a lot of children that want to get involved with band," said Cory TenBrink, organizer of Medford Jazz Festival's used instrument program. "They just can't afford the instruments."

How to donate

Musical instruments may be dropped off at the Medford Chamber of Commerce, 101 E. Eighth St., Medford or the offices of ComNet Marketing Group, 1214 Stowe Ave., Medford.

Local pickup can be arranged online at www.medfordjazz.org. Click on "Instrument Donation Program" on the left side of the page.

The Medford Jazz Festival is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax-deductible. For more information, call the Chamber at 541-779-4847.

The organization also accepts donations to cover the cost of musical instrument rental sponsorships for students, which is $150 per student.

As an example, TenBrink noted that a new tuba can cost $5,000.

"That's an area we can step in and hopefully make a difference," he said. "Not many students and families have a duffel bag of cash labeled 'tuba.' "

Because new instruments can be so expensive, TenBrink said, the Jazz Festival hopes to collect and refurbish donated used instruments from people in the community who no longer use them.

"What we're going to do is we're collecting basically instruments in any condition from around the valley," he said. "We're going to pay internally here to refurbish them, and then we'll distribute them to the public schools."

According to TenBrink, the refurbishing process can be extensive, depending on the instrument. A used trumpet may need its valves replaced, or the neck of a violin may need to be straightened.

Once repaired, each instrument will be provided as a "loaner" instrument to a local school with a need for it.

In addition to soliciting community donations, TenBrink is seeking out instrument manufacturers' "B stock" — new instruments that may be chipped, cracked or otherwise damaged.

The program is important to TenBrink, who knows personally how music education can help a student.

"I was a musician myself," he said. "I won the Music for Youth Scholarship when I was 18."

The scholarship gave him and his band the opportunity to pursue music in Los Angeles for several years.

"I know the impact it can have — getting the student who's at one level and getting them to another level," TenBrink said.

TenBrink says the Jazz Festival has met with music teachers across the valley to get feedback on what instruments are in demand.

"We've met with all the teachers, and they'll give us a list," he said.

"The need is so great. I mean, any and all instruments (are needed)."

To help get the word out, TenBrink plans to open a booth during the Jazz Festival under the banner "We want what's in your closet."

The festival runs Friday through Sunday, Oct. 12-14, at various Medford locations. For more information, see www.medfordjazz.org.

"The more face time we have, the more they'll think of us first instead of just listing it on Craigslist," he said.

Nick Morgan is a news aide with the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4477 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com.


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