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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

How You Can Help Amundsen High School Music Students Get New Instruments This Year

"What we want to do ... is we want to get an instrument into the hands of every single kid," the school's music director said.

Some of Amundsen High School's musical instruments date back to the 1920s and are a little worse for wear.
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Parents at Amundsen High School are hoping to buy new instruments and personal protective equipment for students enrolled in the school’s music education program.

Nonprofit Friends of Amundsen is organizing a fundraiser, which has collected $14,525 of its $20,000 goal as of Tuesday. Organizers aim to raise all of the money before the end of the month. 

This is the group’s fourth annual fundraiser. Previous efforts were devoted to upgrading classroom technology. This year’s funds will help buy instruments the young musicians will not have to share as the pandemic continues, said Matty May, the group’s president. 

Since 1929, students have passed down the school’s inventory of free instruments so families would not have the financial burden of buying them, May said.

“It was very important for us to support the music department for many reasons. At the forefront, music is so important for social, emotional learning. Whole brain development,” May said. “It’s really a big part of what Amundsen is very proud of — the fact that they have never had people pay for their instruments before.”

Before the pandemic shared instruments, like a trumpet, would be used about three times a day and cleaned as they changed hands, said Sean Reidy, the school’s music department chair. But that’s not feasible anymore due to COVID-19 protocols.

“Obviously with times changing, with the enrollment increasing, we no longer can follow this model,” Reidy said. “What we want to do, what we’re shooting for, is we want to get an instrument into the hands of every single kid.”

The $20,000 fundraising goal will cover the cost of maintaining for older instruments, buying new instruments as well as personal protective equipment for the music program. 

“Some of these instruments that they’ve been using throughout the years are in pretty bad shape. But while some of them are old, they’re still very beautiful,” May said. “Mr. Reidy refers to them as ‘legacy instruments.’ And there’s pride a student gets who is able to use a legacy instrument.”

Making sure some of the legacy instruments that are a little worse for wear are maintained for future generations is an important way to keep the school’s history alive and instill pride in current students, May said. 

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