HAVERHILL — When middle school band instructor Matthew Leftin wanted to buy new instruments for students, he decided the best way to do so was turning to the public for help.
It was, he said, “Time to BAND Together.”
“Currently, the middle school band program has one drum set to use between the six schools, as well as a handful of battered percussion instruments that are decades old,” Leftin wrote in his appeal for donors on a crowdfunding website.
And, he noted, the other instruments available to students in the program that serves as a feeder to Haverhill High School — which include mallet percussion, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and trombone — are similarly lacking, both in numbers and quality.
He also said that nearly half of all students in the program are economically disadvantaged and do not have the opportunity to learn to play instruments outside of school. He said students dedicate their own time to the program, and, in the case of rented instruments, their own money as well.
People are responding to Leftin’s plea, which was featured on a crowdfunding site designed for public school teachers.
Leftin was hoping to raise $2,117 to buy a five-piece drum set with hardware, a concert snare drum, felt bass drum mallets, puff bass drum mallets and custom timpani mallets, as well as a portable keyboard and lightweight bongo stand for the all-city middle school jazz band.
“We had raised about $1,000 from donors, then a group called ‘Music Makes Our Students Smarter’ donated the rest, which was very unexpected,” Leftin said.
The financial support will strengthen the middle school band program, which was on shaky ground as few years ago due to budget cuts. The high school depends on the program to provide experienced musicians for Haverhill High’s marching and concert bands.
Student musicians present a dozen concerts per year and also perform at several parades, including the annual VFW Santa Parade in November as well as at football games, hockey games and other community events.
The website used by Leftin is designed for public school teachers looking to fund school projects ranging from books to science and technology to musical instruments to field trips. Teachers specify what they are looking to obtain and why.
Once money is raised through donations, the DonorsChoose organization finds the best prices, orders what a teacher wished for and ships the items directly to schools.
“Our Donors Choose project funded a drum set, keyboard, concert snare drum and several percussion accessories,” Leftin said. “What I like about this website is that you can choose from a select group of vendors, the process is very transparent, and Donors Choose orders the equipment.”
About 150 children in grades six through eight participate in the middle school band program, which is offered at Nettle,…