Play it forward: Donate unused instruments to students who can use them

Play it forward: Donate unused instruments to students who can use them

April 11th, 2014 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

Scott D. Kornblum, general manager at WSMC FM in Collegedale, looks at musical instruments donated to the station's Play It Forward instrument drive.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.


• WSMC Studios

5077 Industrial Drive, Collegedale, Tenn.

• Chattanooga Symphony Opera Office

701 Broad St.

Chattanooga, Tenn.

• To arrange large instrument pickups: 1-866-905-9762

Dr. Bob Coddington always had a hankering to learn to play the banjo. So the his wife sent him one while he was stationed in Korea with the Army -- a morale booster from home.

But his new hobby didn't prove to be the Rx for downtime.

"After trying to learn to play it awhile, I got calluses on my fingers on my left hand. I wasn't able to do surgery like I should, so I quit," says the now-retired pediatric orthopedic surgeon. "I've had it ever since then; never did learn to play."

So 40 years after his banjo-picking came to an end, Coddington donated it to WSMC's instrument drive.

"It's great that somebody will be able to use that instrument. It's just sitting around gathering dust otherwise," says Coddington.

Two months ago, WSMC-FM Classical 90.5 asked the community to help stock instrument lockers in Hamilton County Schools by donating to its Play It Forward musical instrument drive. Scott Kornblum, WSMC general manager, welcomed any instrument tucked away in closets or attics -- woodwind, percussion, brass, keyboard or string, the latter including guitars, banjos and harps as well.

Now, with just under three weeks left, the campaign has met 20 percent of its goal of 200 instruments. Kornblum says just over 40 instruments have been collected. The drive ends April 30.

Stephen Kolderup and wife Janice Hiland were in the Tivoli Theatre audience at the taping of the NPR radio program "From The Top" when the drive was announced. They've donated a flute, violin and guitar to the campaign.

"I played flute, Jan played guitar and the violin was one of our son's practice violins," says Kolderup. "We raised two sons who play violin who really benefited from a good music education. We want that for any student in Chattanooga who wants it. This sounds like a very positive program to put instruments in the hands of students."

Kornblum says instruments don't have to be in top shape; two music store owners have volunteered to help refurbish any that aren't.

"Jonathan Cathell at Consistent-C Winds in Red Bank and Dixie Huthmaker at Huthmaker Violins in Duluth, Ga., are donating what they can in terms of labor," says Kornblum.

A $25,000 grant from the McKenzie Foundation is funding repair costs, he says, and any instruments that schools can't use or aren't worth repairing will be donated to the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera's petting zoo. The "zoo" allows youngsters to handle instruments and try their skill at playing them.

"So those instruments will still be put to good use in arts education," says Kornblum.

The station manager says he has spoken with Hamilton County School officials to determine the schools with the greatest need. Also, any music educator in need of instruments for a school program can fill out an application on WSMC's website.

"Some are going to Howard High School, which desperately needs them, and its feeder schools, East Lake and Calvin Donaldson," says Kornblum.

For more information, check the website at

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.