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Instrument donation makes big impact

Bradley’s Department of Music made a large instrument donation to Manual High School in Peoria last month. 

Todd Kelly, chairperson for the department of Music, donated 13 cornets valued at $2,500 each.

“These cornets are no longer being used at Bradley and they were going to just sit on a shelf,” Kelly said. “I strongly believe that instruments were built to be played, and not to collect dust.” 

Kelly set this donation up with his close friend Scott Baldwin, the band director at Manual High School. 

“I know from our discussions that there are many kids in District 150 who are playing on substandard instruments,” Kelly said. “This is just frustrating for them, and makes them more likely to give up on music.” 

As a result of the subpar instruments, the students have had to work harder to learn how to play them.

“Imagine a student trying to learn math using a pencil that only works about 70% of the time, or learning literature from a book missing a third of the pages,” Baldwin said. “Students often must overcome challenges like these in band programs everywhere, because the instruments they play on are often old and worn out or were never much good to begin with.” 

The program and practices for these students will be largely improved with the donation of these instruments.

“It means so much to them and to those around them to have instruments that in no way hinder the learning process,” Baldwin said.

More instruments could be the key for students in touch with their creative side, according to Kelly.

“These are beautiful instruments that will allow the kids that play them reach their full potential as musicians,” Kelly said. “I want the students in District 150 to discover the joy of making music. If these instruments help to light the artistic fire of even one student, it will all be worth it.” 

The donation also allowed Manual High School to free up funds to improve other aspects of their band program. 

“We can use the savings to invest in things like new uniforms or other new instruments,” Baldwin said. “With the quality of the instruments we received from Bradley, we expect them to be in regular use for a very long time at Manual, and with proper care, these instruments just don’t wear out, which is a very big deal for us.” 

Recently, Manual’s band played their first football game since 2019, with more cornet players and enthusiastic musicians than ever before. 

“I personally am just overwhelmed at the generosity of Dr. Kelly and Dr. Brown and Bradley University,” Baldwin said. “The kids come to class and literally can’t wait to get the instruments out and play.”

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