Meet Georgia’s McNair Middle School band ‑ so underfunded its members make do with partial, even imaginary instruments

For the McNair Middle School Band, the help of DZF and its supporters would be music to the ears of 100 deserving 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. This Title 1 school, located in one of the poorest parts of inner-city Decatur, Georgia, provides no annual budget for the school band, leaving over 1/3 of the band members without access to instruments. Instructor Thomas Russell has devised ingenious strategies for getting  instruments to the McNair Band’s poorest members, but some are still left behind. Russell says that many children learn on broken instruments or pieces of instruments, while in one class the members of the clarinet and trombone sections learn to play by pretending to hold their instruments and trying to keep up with the rest of the band.


Russell has witnessed the steady decline of the community around McNair: “Years ago most of the students with economically stable families moved out to the area to form new schools on the rim of the county, leaving our area with many students in need.” He adds that the band and music education classes offer kids a chance to use their energy and creativity constructively, but “ I fear their dedication will diminish as it has for many other students because their desire to play an instrument is going unanswered.”

While DZF receives many heartrending requests from schools and other organizations, and has the privilege to help many of them, this request stands out. Russell estimates that $100,000 is needed to provide a proper stock of instruments for the band, but an initial grant of $4000 would serve to repair the band’s existing instruments so they could be played again, and be a wonderful step in the right direction.

To help the McNair Middle School Band today click here. Please write "McNair Middle School" in your donation description.

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