Life is a funny thing. Sometimes we inherit instruments we don’t want/need, through death, or garage sales, or whatever happens. So you have this saxophone from 1963 that your grandfather swears he played in the same club Charlie Parker sneezed in. What are you supposed to do with it?
Consider donating your instrument to a program that will put your instrument in the hands of a student in need. There are thousands of talented young students ready to take their inaugural steps as musicians but are unable to receive an instrument often due to family finances.
We get it, donating an instrument, that is a big ask. The instruments donated have sentimental value, if not also monetary value as well. It can be hard to say good bye to instruments which, for many musicians, was a large piece of themselves. By donating an instrument, you allow a child the opportunity to connect with the world in a way that they would be unable to do any other way.
“But how do I know that my precious instrument will be used by a student really in need?”
Qualifying students are identified by school band directors and scholarship applications are submitted in the student’s name. Donated instruments are then placed with children in local elementary, middle, and high school bands and orchestras.
“But didn’t you hear me? My grandfather’s saxophone was played in the same club Charlie Parker sneezed in. It’s gotta be worth a lot.”
As a rule, instruments don’t tend to appreciate in value. Similar to a car, instruments need consistent upkeep, whether or not they are being used consistently. So your grandfather’s old saxophone that you’ve had sitting in your closet collecting dust is not going to be in “great condition” just because nobody’s touched it in thirty years. However, for instrument donations, instruments can be new, used, and in adequate condition. Some music stores like Buddy Roger's Music generously donate time to carefully restore, tune, and clean instruments so they're ready for the child's first note.
On the off chance your instrument is actually worth something (like finding a Mount Vernon Bach Strad trumpet or a Selmer Mark VI saxophone in your closet), your donation has the potential to help a lot of students. Donation programs know how to get the best value selling that instrument, which they will in turn, sell and use the money to restore the other received instruments to working condition. There is always a need for money to support programs like these.
But if you really, really need incentive to donate your instrument, you can receive a tax deduction for your donation, which I can only imagine is on par with the feeling of satisfaction from knowing a child will benefit from your used instrument.
And I bet, if you asked your grandfather who played the instrument in the same club that Charlie Parker sneezed in, he would be proud to know that the legacy of his instrument lives on with another young musician.