Symphony Of Success

60 Musical Instruments Donated To Drive

One of the saxophones donated being assessed by staff. P-J photos

Some musical instruments received a new life Saturday.

The first of PROMISE Fund’s Annual Music Program Drive was a resounding success, collecting 60 instrument donations, some of which being pre-WWII instruments, as well as a Bach Stradivarius Trombone, along with numerous financial contributions.

Numerous community members made up of band directors, retired music teachers, and other interested community members along with the PROMISE Fund in collaboration with the Music Departments of the Jamestown Public Schools, and the Chautauqua Regional Community Foundation. Funds raised will be used to help repair instruments, purchase new cases, and bring in guest artists to the area. Others involved with the fund were Joe Pawelski, treasurer, JPS board member; Carrie Pawelski, band teacher at Jefferson Middle School; Desiree DeMarte, math teacher at JHS; Ed Tomassini; and Carl Brand.

“Some of our students who would like to be in the music program are hard-pressed to rent the instruments, so we would like to help by supplying the instruments. The school budget hasn’t been able to accommodate that in recent years, but the school board has been very gracious in the past couple of years,” said Lillian Ney, vice chairwoman of the fund.

Rick Lundquist, a music teacher in Jamestown, shared a story about a trumpet that was donated.

“The guy who owned the trumpet was Al Johnson, he was a trumpet player. This horn was dated 1955, and was top of the line back in its day. Al played in school when he was in Jamestown, and he used this quite a bit professionally.”

Each instrument that is donated has a story. “Every instrument that we received today comes with a story, and that’s a beautiful thing. There are generations of music in each instrument and generations to come,” said Gary Kindberg, a volunteer with the JHS Marching Band.

The instruments still retain a substantial amount of value and use. John Cross, former band director at Cassadaga Valley Central School, said “What could have simply become discarded relics, these instruments are gaining new life” and that “often-time, older instruments are of better quality due to the better craftsmanship of the day. They are built ‘like a tank.’ A simple drop or bump with newer instruments can result in a $30 to $80 repair cost. These older instruments, you can basically drop them and they will still be fine.”

Katie Derrenbacher, Director of the Orchestra at JHS as well as Persell Middle School shared these sentiments, saying that “in this day and age, just because it isn’t new, doesn’t mean that it is useful or worth anything anymore, especially for string instruments. Some of these can be put back to use, and a child can bring these back to life again.”

The time-tested functionality and durability of these donated instruments and the music that it provides its benefactors, the children of the Jamestown community, can be immense. Nina Karbacka, a retired music teacher, Suzuki teacher, and member of the Board of Education in Jamestown, said of community members that “they are coming out, seeing the need of the children, and wanting to share the wonderful joy of music with everyone in the community. So every instrument you see here could potentially change a life.”

Vince Micciche, of Jamestown, who donated an alto saxophone, echoed the sentiments of Karbacka, stating that the “band program here is amazing. It always scares me when they talk about budget cuts. The first thing that they hit is band, sports, extracurriculars. Music is so important to the kids.”

Cross emphasized the importance of music in a child’s life, especially in modern times. “The instrument can give you the ability to work within a different social group. It just broadens your horizons, along with the discipline that comes with practicing an instrument. When you are in a band, you are all in it together, you have this support group within this ensemble. It empowers you as a human being. So there is real value beyond just learning a new skill, it operates your entire brain. From the way you feel, to the way you think, the way your muscles move. There’s real benefit to being able to play an instrument.”

The generosity of the community was warmly received by all who helped out with the event. Derrenbacher said “this has been a great turnout. First time we have done anything like this before.” Meghan Murray, Band Director at JHS, said “we are overwhelmed by the response by the community!”

Asha DeHarder, the student representative of the fund, said that “If you are a member of the community, and are able, you should support the PROMISE Fund. It does so many different things within the community. Though the music drive ends today, we will be accepting donations throughout the year.”

If you are interested in donating an instrument, or making a financial contribution, the Promise Fund can be reached at