Weaving together a passion for music education and restoring old instruments, a nearby nonprofit organization launches a project that aims to get instruments in students’ hands.

Ear Candy, based in Tempe, started new project Online Instrument Drives last week. The project focuses on raising funds to repair and repurpose unused instruments and sending them out to schools in need.

With a goal of raising $25,000 by Sept. 14, teachers request instruments through Ear Candy’s website. From there, donors who wish to give money or actual instruments can choose which school they want to help.

Last year Ear Candy reached nearly 10,000 kids in the Valley, and has high hopes that number could reach 15,000 this year.

Founder and Executive Director Nate Anderson explained the drive as being “an evolution of how we’ve been feeling out our mission.”

That mission started in 2007, when Anderson felt called to combine his love for music and seeing a need for more organizations that support music education.

Anderson played piano growing up, and credits that childhood training to helping him develop academically and socially.

“I saw firsthand all of those great benefits and I’m glad I’m able to apply my skills,” said Anderson, who considers himself more of a music fanatic than a musician.

The cost to buy a brand new student instrument is around $600, according to Anderson. To rent an instrument, it costs near $20 to 30 a month. For used instruments, however, the cost to buy is about $150.

“All the instruments left behind in closets have stories,” Anderson said. “We hear of so many people who used instruments when they were younger, and now they are stowed away collecting dust.”

In most cases, Anderson added, older instruments are a better quality than some that are newly made.

The only thing they need, “is a little TLC,” Anderson said.

He encourages the public, and schools in Ahwatukee to take a look at which areas need help.

Though the time slot to donate is a small window, Anderson assures that this drive to help kids experience music will continue.

“We’ve built it for the long haul, it’s not going anywhere.”

For more information about Ear Candy or how to donate, visit www.earcandycharity.org.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4902 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com

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