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

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 29

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree gets a standing ovation from the Alaska State Legislature as he enters the House chamber Wednesday to deliver his final State of the Judiciary speech. Winfree is stepping down next Monday when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Chief justice bids lawmakers a fervent farewell

Daniel Winfree, in State of Judiciary days before retirement, warns about mixing politics and courts

Alpine meals are great, but it's tough to beat the satisfaction of a hot meal on the shore after fishing through a run for steelhead. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
I Went to the Woods: Either or, probably not both

It’s really difficult to double-major both in college and in life.

This photo shows frozen salmonberries for use all winter. (Courtesy Photo / Vivian Faith Prescott)
Planet Alaska: Salmonberries in winter

Sometimes in the winter, I dream of salmonberries…

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Young students from the Tlingit Culture Language and Literacy program at Harborview Elementary School dance on stage Wednesday afternoon during a dancing-of-the-robes ceremony for over a dozen Chilkat robes that were weaved by student weavers who participated in a more than two-year-long apprenticeship to learn the craft.
Chilkat robes come to life in ceremony

The pieces were created by dozens of student weavers over the past two year

This Sunday, June 30, 2019, aerial photo released by Earthjustice shows the Alaska's North Slope in the Western Arctic on the edge of Teshekpuk Lake, Alaska. The Biden administration issued a long-awaited study on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, that recommends allowing a major oil development on Alaska's North Slope, and the move — while not final — drew immediate anger from environmentalists who saw it as a betrayal of the president's pledges to reduce carbon emissions and promote clean energy sources. (Kiliii Yuyan for Earthjustice via AP)
Biden administration takes step toward OK’ing Willow Project

Final decision expected no sooner than early March.

Bus drivers picket outside the bus barn in Wasilla, Alaska on Jan. 26, 2023. Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district have gone on strike after delivering students to classes on Tuesday,  Jan. 31, citing unfair labor practices. (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News)
Mat-Su school bus drivers strike

ANCHORAGE — Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district went on strike… Continue reading

The Juneau School District’s recently announced its new directors of teaching and learning support and student services who are set to start in their positions in July. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
District selects new directors for teaching and learning support and student services

The new directors will take over their roles in the district in July.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

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

Most Read