Giving old instruments new life has become an unexpected hallmark project for the Seal Beach group of the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee. What began as an article in the Sun Newspaper about a donation of instruments in 2019, has led to more donations, more articles, and to date, over 50 instruments have been donated, repaired, and are making music again in the bands and hands of students at local schools.
The latest batch of refurbished instruments were brought to Ocean View High School this month and are already being put to use under the guidance of Director of Bands & Choirs/Music Teacher J.P. Combs. Three trumpets, a saxophone, trombone, and a wonderful Baldwin grand piano are now at home in the Ocean View High School band room.
Longtime HHPC Admiralty member Mary Busche told her daughter-in-law Cindy Busche, and her grandson Benjamin Busche, about the Seal Beach group’s project. Ben, a student and band member at Ocean View, spoke with his teacher Mr. Combs. They made a “wanted” list of instruments needed and then the amazing volunteers went to work on fulfilling it!
The history of the instruments that find their way to the schools through the volunteers is varied and often quite interesting. Many instruments have been donated by former students who related that when they were young, they received an instrument which changed their lives. They wanted other young students to have the opportunity and privilege they did.
Earlier this year, a renowned musician (who wishes to remain anonymous) donated a valuable professional trumpet played in the original Disneyland Band. This musician suggested to the volunteers that trumpet be sold, and the proceeds used to buy multiple trumpets of good quality better suited for student players. Thanks to that generous donation, those are the three trumpets donated to Ocean View High School.
The grand piano was donated by a piano teacher in Los Alamitos who is a friend of HHPC member and Seal Beach volunteer Lyn Pohlman, who is also a piano teacher. The piano was Lyn’s friend’s mother’s, who passed away and wanted it to go to a local school. Hopefully she is exceptionally pleased it found a new home and a place of pride at Ocean View where the beloved instrument will continue to touch the lives of countless students for many years to come.
Most of the donated instruments received by the Seal Beach group need a bit of repair. Morey’s Music in Lakewood does the work, but the money gets used up quickly. Three instruments are currently awaiting repairs and funding for those repairs. A dedicated fund has been started for anyone who would like to contribute towards the repair of instruments.
The Seal Beach group of the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee is always in search of no-longer-used instruments that may be collecting dust in your closet, attic or garage. It’s a team effort; Virginia Fraser is contacted by email or phone and collects the donations. Louise Dubos and Virginia then take them to Morey’s to be checked out. Louise contacts individuals and schools who may need or requested instrument donations, and Nancy Ramos has been responsible for the newspaper articles which lead to even more donations. Especially needed are large instruments that are difficult and cumbersome to cart back and forth to school, like a tuba, French horn, cello, or bass.
Dr. Andrew Howat, Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University Fullerton, who donated a cornet he played in middle and high school bands, said sagely, “Instruments need to be played, not sitting in a closet.” For more information about how you can donate an instrument or make a tax-deductible donation towards repairs, please contact Virginia Fraser by calling 562-596-8591 or email at CVF1955@gmail.com, or contact the Philharmonic Society of Orange County 949-553-2422.
Lara Anderson is the public relations chair for the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee.