'A really big impact': Wisconsin Conservatory of Music hosting 2023 Instrument Drive

NOW: ’A really big impact’: Wisconsin Conservatory of Music hosting 2023 Instrument Drive

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- If you have an instrument that's collecting dust in the attic instead of providing some good tunes, you might want to consider making a trip to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, the conservatory will be hosting the 4th bi-annual instrument drive, collecting used instruments from community members so that they can be redistributed to young, aspiring musicians in Milwaukee and surrounding communities.

"The instrument drive has only been happening since 2017," said Teresa Drews, director of education at the WCM. "We definitely realized a need on both sides for this drive to happen."

Drews says the conservatory collects all year long and distributes them to student applicants on a weekly basis. The drive not only helps bring in more instruments but helps raise funds for their repairs.

"The instruments that come in, they may be in a climate-controlled house, but it's been sitting for years. If it's a clarinet, it might need new pads; a string instrument's going to need new strings," Drews explained. "Average is about $200 per instrument. The conservatory has made it a priority to help pay for some of the repairs, but we can only do so much."

Once repaired, the instruments are given at no charge to students who fill out an application with the conservatory. They do not have to be students at WCM to receive an instrument.

"We would love everyone to study here," Drews said. "(But) it's not always going to be fitting into someone's schedule."

12-year-old Aaron Cowap has been taking percussion instruments at the conservatory for a little over a year. He's also the recipient of a five-piece drum set courtesy of the instrument drive.

"Honestly, about twice a day," said Cowap, when asked how many times he practices on his new kit. "I like getting to just like go down to my drum set and just like play and like not even know, like not even play something specific, just play whatever I want."

For Cowap's mother, Tasha, the drive allowed her to provide her son with something he had been hoping for some time.

"When the opportunity came up to get a drum set, I will admit I did not ask my husband, I did not tell anyone, I just emailed back and said 'Yes, we would love a drum set if there is one,'" Tasha recalled, smiling when talking about how excited her son was to receive the set. "I think he jumped like a few feet in the air. He was so excited."

That excitement carried over to Tasha and her husband, happy to see their son pursuing and practicing his passion.

"I'm super thankful that people donate their used instruments and I'm sure it's helping a lot of families," Cowap said. "These kids need to be playing at home, they can't just play once a week when they come in for practice. It's definitely been good to see him playing at home and hear that."

For the conservatory, it's stories like the Cowap's that help make the efforts of the drive worth it every two years.

"It's a really big impact on the students who receive it," Drews said. "Music, it's fun, but it's not easy. You spend a lot of time with your instrument and yourself; that relationship between the instrument and the person playing is a close one and you spend a lot of time together. That enthusiasm goes a long way because it's hard. It's not easy but it's really, really fulfilling."

For more information on the WCM 2023 Instrument Drive, visit the website here: https://www.wcmusic.org/instrument-drive/

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