An Extraordinary Example of How to 'Play it Forward'

by Hans Buetow, Minnesota Public Radio
May 26, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — May at Classical MPR is Play it Forward month, a time when we ask the people of Minnesota to help young musicians by donating their old, unused musical instruments to their local school.

Shortly after beginning this year's drive, we were contacted by a young man, Martin Kulstad, who said that he had heard about last year's Play it Forward drive on the radio in Spring of 2010, and being a musician as well as a prospective Eagle Scout, felt that this was a project where he could help.

Kulstad called us up and asked if he could collect instruments for donation. The drive had just concluded, so we put him in touch with the Minnesota Music Educators Association, who directed Kulstad to be in touch directly with the Sandford Middle School in Minneapolis.

"I went over to talk to their band instructor, Scott Erickson," said Kulstad, "and he said he would be needing many more instruments for the coming fall."

Working with the other scouts in his Troop 123, Kulstad distributed flyers throughout Edina and Hopkins, requesting donations of instruments that were no longer being used.

"The reply was great. I was able to collect over 40 instruments that my troop helped me to present to the school."

One of the foremost responses that Kulstad heard was that donors "just didn't know what to do with the instruments sitting in their basement, but they all wanted them to go to someone deserving. They were so happy to give them to us!"

In the fall of 2010, the Sandford Middle School Band, buoyed by fresh instruments, held a concert in honor of Troop 123's support. The concert was quite literally made possible by the efforts of Kulstad and his troop, as Sandford Middle School was the result of a recent combination of two schools, and director Scott Erickson had made it clear to Kulstad that he did not know where he would get the instruments needed for the music program.

"It was a great moment to see all those instruments being played on the stage," said Kulstad about the concert. "And it all began with a message on MPR about Play it Forward."

Martin Kulstad received his Eagle Scout Award for his organization of the successful drive.

If you have an instrument you would like to donate, you can find a local school in need at: classicalmpr.org/playitforward.

If you have a story about how an MPR Legacy Project has had an impact on you, please leave us a message at 651-228-4960.

Play it Forward: Classical MPR's Used Instrument Drive is funded in part by the Legacy Amendment for Arts and Cultural Heritage.

On Now

Listen to the Stream
Playlist
Other MPR Radio Streams
Choral Stream
MPR News
Radio Heartland

You can now listen to Classical and Choral Music on your iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) or Android device.