Have An Unused Instrument? Consider Giving it a New Home

Want your instrument to make music again? We know a place taking donations for kids.

Maybe you’ve forgotten about the trumpet tucked away under your bed, the drum set collecting dust in the basement or perhaps a violin stashed out-of-sight in your closet. Loads of people have instruments sitting unused, and if you’re one of them, we know a place that is giving instruments new homes. 

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music hosted its first instrument drive two years ago because of a question that was on the mind of President and CEO  Eric Tillich: “How do we get kids the instruments they need to become more proficient in their love of that instrument?” He says it can be difficult for families to get access to instruments because renting and buying can be cost-prohibitive to families.

Tillich was driving when he had the idea: “Why don’t we do a community-wide instrument drive?”

During the first drive, they collected about 250 instruments. In two years’ time, the WCM has put resources toward repairing and re-homing the instruments to kids. Now it’s time to restock.On Saturday, the Conservatory will be collecting instruments again. No, they won’t take your pianos or kazoos, but they are interested in just about everything else. Their list of needed instruments includes brass, guitars, drum sets, strings, winds and some instrument accessories too. WCM  says there’s a significant need for  they for child-sized violins.

Tillich is looking forward to seeing the turnout this year, noting that “Milwaukee is a really giving community.” He likes that every instrument has a history, and that this drive is a way of giving them a future. A vintage saxophone collected during the last drive could be traced back to a conservatory in Paris through an engraving on the bell. 

And for students, “There’s no strings attached,” Tillich says.  

While the drive is set for Saturday, the Conservatory will continue collecting instruments throughout the year. The group is also collecting donations to the Instrument Repair Fund. They say, “instruments, like cars, need tuneups,” and donating to this fund makes that process possible. Donated instruments require an average of $180 in repairs before they can be re-homed to a student.

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Meet Mekdes

Mekdes Woldemariam needs a harp. Other students need trumpets, drum sets, violins and guitars, but Woldemariam has her eyes on a harp. The high school senior says music is part of the culture in her home country of Ethiopia, and she plans to study fine arts and physics in college. When she heard about the Conservatory’s instrument drive, she reached out to see if this could be an opportunity to find a harp. Someday, she hopes to perform with her family. 


How To Donate

What: Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Instrument Drive

When: Saturday, October 5

Where: Multiple Locations

How: Visit an Instrument Drive donation center near you with a donation from the list of needed instruments. Check the hours for each site before leaving. An Instrument Drive staff member will assist you in completing your donation.

Also: You can also make a donation to the Instrument Repair Fund



Allison Garcia is the Digital Editor for Milwaukee Magazine.