If you run a school band or after-school music group, the cost of buying instruments can be a great frustration. It’s fun to be able to inspire young people to make music and to improve their skills, but for kids just trying something out, it isn’t practical to ask them to invest in an instrument themselves. Thankfully, several organizations in the United States offer grants to buy musical instruments.
Many grant programs, such as the Melody Program of the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, are focused on the K-12 classroom, while others look after the needs of before- and after-school groups. Guitars in the Classroom will lend instruments, while other programs will give cash grants to buy quality instruments for the school that can be used by individual students year after year.
If your school or music program has a particularly promising student who’s really serious about her instrument, help is also available for individuals to buy better quality instruments. The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation gives a Michael Kamen Solo Award (named after the organization’s founder), which is a cash grant for a student musician who’s achieved at least five years of instrumental study. Students must be in grades 8 through 12.
Most grant programs for instruments require your program to demonstrate need. Some are only available to Title 1 schools, or to those that can show a serious financial need. Others are focused on particular groups. The foundation started by country star Chely Wright, Reading, Writing & Rhythm, gives grants to small or rural school music programs so that they can afford instruments.
If your group fosters performance in one type of instrument, some specific grants are available. Classics For Kids supports programs that teach orchestral string instruments such as violin and cello. Schools or nonprofits can apply for the grants to buy quality stringed instruments. The organization is based in Bozeman, Montana, but makes grants to schools nationwide.
Some programs require you to show a commitment to raising your own funds in addition to the cash available through the grant. Classics For Kids expects all grantees to raise matching funds. Programs must also demonstrate in their application that they have significant community support, and show evidence of need.