Fort Worth

Fort Worth school band gets 20 new instruments

Melissa Martinez, a sixth-grader at Handley Middle School, looks to Facebook to chat with friends and stay up on trends.

But she never expected to read there that she was getting a new musical instrument.

“My flute is not as new as I want it to be — it has a loose screw and I don’t know if it’s fixable,” said Martinez, 12, of the flute she has used for a year or so.

The new flute and 19 other instruments, $19,360 total worth, was donated by the Sid Richardson Foundation to the school. Handley was selected Tuesday by the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to receive five flutes, five clarinets, seven trombones, two euphoniums and one trumpet, band director Tommy Neher said.

“It’s cool and exciting to have the kids getting more instruments that are playable and that work,” Neher said Tuesday just before the announcement was made on the foundation’s Facebook page.

About 83 students are in the band program, he said. Handley has 640 students, more than 60 percent of them economically disadvantaged.

Martinez and her classmates cheered and clapped when they read the announcement on Facebook, displayed on an overhead projector in the classroom.

“I played last year and was inspired by my mom to play because she played in high school,” said Samara Evans, 13, a seventh-grade clarinetist.

Twelfth-grader Joshua Smith, 12, said the new instruments will sound better.

“It feels good,” Smith said. “It’s just louder when the instrument is new.”

Da’Ron Jackson, 13, a percussionist in the seventh grade, said the band program has enabled him to set long-term goals. He’s played the drums and other instruments since age 5, he said, and would like to play in college at “LSU or Ole Miss,” he said.

“My father played the drums,” Jackson said. “I play the drums at my church now.”

Neher, the band director, was all smiles. “As I said, this was a process that was started back in May to get you guys better instruments,” he told the students. “Who’s going to be the first to get new instruments?”

Dozens of hands shot up.

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