EAST ELMHURST — The musicians at Louis Armstrong Middle School received a gift of nearly 40 gently-used instruments from the city's only classical music station this week, part of an initiative that's already brought thousands into city schools.
Students carried in violins, trumpets, clarinets, trombones, a drum kit and more from WQXR's van into the orchestra room at their school at 32-02 Junction Blvd., where dozens of musicians have been preparing for the spring concert.
The donation comes out of the station's instrument drive, which it began in 2014. It's already collected more than 5,800 musical instruments — including the donation of a violin on the first day of the drive which resulted in the Oscar-nominated documentary, "Joe's Violin."
"Anything that you can carry by hand, we can find a home for it," said Kathleen Drohan, director of the WQXR Musical Instrument Drive.
Although the initial drives ended, Sam Ash stores continue to take any and all instrument donations — bringing in accordions to zithes and everything in between.
Students carrying in instruments from the WQXR instrument van. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
A donation of a musical instrument comes with a unique backstory, Drohan said. It could be brought in by a musician who has upgraded equipment, or a family member after a musician dies. It could be a flute from a flutist who realized he or she just wasn't very good.
"It's different than just a thing," she said. "Every one of [the instruments] was loved by somebody."
Schools like Louis Armstrong apply for the instruments through the Department of Education. They're then chosen by their music program, and whether the school can use what's available to them, according to Paul King, the executive director of the DOE's office of arts and special projects.
King joined the school's principal, Helen Ponella, to thank WQXR inside the orchestra room, where more than a dozen eighth-grade students were practicing "Carmen" from composer George Bizet.
"There's always a responsibility with every gift, and your responsibility now is to make really great music," he told the students.