Jim Anderson talks with Thunder Mountain High School music chair Brian Van Kirk. Anderson donated a guitar and several other music accessories during the first ever musical instrument drive at the high school. The drive is a way to help provide instruments throughout the school district for students interested in music. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Jim Anderson talks with Thunder Mountain High School music chair Brian Van Kirk. Anderson donated a guitar and several other music accessories during the first ever musical instrument drive at the high school. The drive is a way to help provide instruments throughout the school district for students interested in music. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Music drive is instrumental for high school program

TMHS band chair Van Kirk conducts secondhand instrument roundup

They took the retired, the worn and the muddled saxes.

Brian Van Kirk, music chair at Thunder Mountain High School, and a handful of band students collected secondhand horns, woodwinds and more for a musical instrument drive Saturday at the high school.

“I’m not sure what to expect,” Van Kirk said. “This is the first time we’ve done this.”

Van Kirk said the drive is a way to supplement the instruments available for students in the district, and there is a need because of a lack of local instrument rental options.

Also, he said it’s a way to ensure interest in music being cultivated at the elementary school level can continue to grow.

“We need to make sure it’s sustainable at the middle school and high school levels,” Van Kirk said.

The drive started at 9 a.m., and 90 minutes later, about a dozen musical instruments had been donated. Donors were given tax deductible donation sheets for their instruments.

At 10:30 a.m. the haul included a drum set, a flute, a drum kit, a clarinet, multiple saxophones, a nearly brand new violin and an unopened guitar among other items.

Becca Marx was one of the donors.

Marx dropped off a violin she was given in sixth grade and played sparingly.

“I’ve only played it a couple of times,” Marx said. “I thought it’d go to better use here.”

Jim Anderson, who donated a Fender acoustic guitar still in its original box, had similar thoughts.

“My wife was into playing the guitar, and it just went away for her,” Anderson said. “It’s nice to have it out of the house and taking up space and have it someplace people will use it. Maybe the next Eric Clapton will play it.”

Anderson also donated a guitar tuner, a pitch pipe and a homemade music stand that could be converted to be used on a table or as a standalone.

“I think it was like a tie rack, and I started looking at it, and I said, ‘I can do this,” Anderson said of the custom-built equipment.

Van Kirk said all of the items could be used, and the instruments collected will be used throughout the district.

“I need bigger instruments, but violins and guitars are really needed,” Van Kirk said.

Even the instruments in states of slight disrepair can be fixed and used.

“We’re looking at having some different organizations help with some repairs, which we hope to do locally,” Van Kirk said.

While the drive ended at noon Saturday, Van Kirk said collection efforts can continue if there are people in the community with instruments they’d like to donate.

“They can come by and drop it off at Thunder Mountain,” Van Kirk said.


• Contact Capital City Weekly reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243.


Carol Stauffer fills out paperwork while Brian Van Kirk, Thunder Mountain High School music chair, inspects a trumpet donated by Stauffer, who also donated a clarinet. Stauffer’s daughters played the instruments in high school, when they were Van Kirk’s students. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Carol Stauffer fills out paperwork while Brian Van Kirk, Thunder Mountain High School music chair, inspects a trumpet donated by Stauffer, who also donated a clarinet. Stauffer’s daughters played the instruments in high school, when they were Van Kirk’s students. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Aug. 14

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This October 2020 photo shows the MV Kennicott. The Alaska Marine Highway System's winter ferry schedule is now available for review. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Winter ferry schedule available for review

Comments now being accepted.

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Supporters of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski wait for an opportunity to talk to her at her newly Juneau campaign headquarters Thursday evening at Kootznoowoo Plaza. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Murkowski opens up at Juneau HQ debut

Senator chats with supporters about U.S. vs. Belgium voting, moose chili and Project Veritas

(Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

U.S. Senate candidate Shoshana Gungurstein stars in a campaign sign within view of the Alaska governor’s mansion. Gungurstein, an independent, got exposure this week for being a Hollywood actress under a different last name after questions about her past went unanswered throughout the campaign. She is one of 19 candidates seeking to be among the four selected in next Tuesday’s primary to compete in the November general election. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Senate candidate sheds more light on background

Shoshana Gungurstein responds at length to recent report on past film career.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Drug arrest made in Skagway

Police say a suspicious package was intercepted.

Most Read