Grant helps IPS school add new musical instruments

A grant allowed IPS 67 to buy seven new instruments.
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School systems across the state are facing tremendous financial pressures, and, in some instances, music and arts programs have felt the brunt of cutbacks. But one area music program is getting a boost, thanks to something that happened on the big screen more than 15 years ago.

Some are just beginning, while others here have been in the band for several years, but recently even more students here at IPS Steven Foster School 67 have a shot at pursuing a future in music.

Aaliyah Coe is an eighth grade band student who now plays one of the new instruments that were provided by a foundation inspired by the 1995 motion picture "Mr. Holland's Opus."

"I was very excited, because not only were there new instruments, but it gives a chance for other kids to join the band. It makes me feel like I'm on top of the world, because it's new, I know what I'm doing, and I feel really good," Coe said.

There are two French horns, two trombones, two baritones, and a saxophone. A double French horn costs around $3,000. Thanks to the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation grant, the school has been able to obtain seven instruments.

"I was so excited, because I love to play the trombone, and I know for more people it would be awesome," Sierra Myles said.

Band teacher Janet Doherty says it's rare when elementary school bands have a chance to play instruments like these.

"They'll have clarinets, trumpets, flutes, trombones, but they don't have these instruments that kind of fill in the inner sounds of your band and make it a lot better quality," Doherty said.

Principal Mark Nardo says the music program is instrumental in keeping students engaged in their class work.

"It's that hook, Bruce, that we talk about. It gets the kids interested in school. It keeps them interested in school, it provides them with focus, it provides them with an opportunity to be successful," Nardo said.

The Stephen Foster School is one of 85 nationwide to benefit from the Mr. Holland's Opus program, which has provided more than 15,000 instruments to music programs over the last 15 years.