When Daniel Reed’s students walk into their music class at Englewood High School next week, they’ll have a surprise waiting for them — 38 new instruments, courtesy of Jacksonville’s Tedeschi Trucks Band.
The instruments — 20 guitars, a drum kit, congas, clarinets, euphoniums, flutes, trombones, tubas, sousaphones and mellophones — were donated by the Jacksonville-based rock band. Guitarist Derek Trucks was a student at Englewood.
The donation, which totaled around $48,000, came through the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a California-based organization that has coordinated the donation of more than 27,000 instruments to more than 1,500 schools over the last 22 years. The organization was started by Michael Kamen, who wrote the score for “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” a 1995 Richard Dreyfuss film about a composer who works in a high school.
Felice Mancini, CEO of the foundation, said the Tedeschi Trucks Band set aside proceeds from several concerts to raise the money.
“We’ve been working with the Tedeschi Trucks Band for several years,” Mancini said. “We knew they wanted to support music education. It was their money, their donation that made it happen.”
The foundation interviews administrators and teachers before agreeing to donate instruments to a school. “One of the reasons people like to work with us is that we vet the schools pretty thoroughly,” Mancini said.
Susan Tedeschi, singer and guitarist for the band, said earlier this summer that a friend who works with the St. Johns County schools connected them with the foundation.
“We found out the schools that were most in need and one of the schools that was most in need for instruments was Englewood, where Derek went,” Tedeschi said. “We’ll be spreading it around to different schools.”
Several Englewood students were invited backstage when the Tedeschi Trucks Band played at Daily’s Place in June.
“Susan and I were both fortunate to have instruments available to us when we were young,” Trucks, who was touring with his own band during his Englewood days, said in a news release. “Sadly, this is not the case for so many students these days, at a time when having the tools to express creativity is so vital to their education. We were happy and humbled to help.”
Reed, the band director at Englewood, said the donation will make a big difference in his students’ lives. Two years ago, he had 30 students in his guitar class, but just 10 guitars. Kids had to do worksheets while they waited for their turn on an instrument. That won’t be the case this year, when he’ll have 50 guitars available for about 120 guitar students spread over three classes.
“Every student will be able to play in the first week of school,” he said.