The musical instrument that served you or a loved one so well has a second chance at life. A Des Moines Public Schools student may be waiting for an opportunity to play it in a marching band or at an orchestra concert. The school district is now accepting donations of gently used, portable instruments.

“The goal is to provide an instrument for any student who wants to play,” said Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Tim Schott. “Right now, we have a waiting list of students who need instruments.”

According to Kelly Schnackenberg, DMPS Fine & Performing Arts Curriculum Coordinator, the district has seen an increase in participation in the Fine Arts, and a greater volume of requests from students to rent instruments from the district instead of local vendors.

“One reason this might be the case is that students can rent a DMPS instrument for a much smaller fee than a local vendor, and in some cases, low-income students qualify to have the fee waived,” she said. “The national supply is incredibly limited due to supply shortages, so in some cases we’re still waiting for instruments we’ve already ordered.”

More than 300 DMPS students are waiting on an instrument to play.

Here are the instruments the music department still needs to put into the hands of students:


  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Trumpet
  • Trombones
  • Alto Saxophones
  • Baritone


  • 3/4 Violin
  • 4/4 Violin
  • 13″ Viola
  • 14″ Viola
  • 15″ Viola
  • 3/4 Bass
  • 3/4 Cello
  • 4/4 Cello

“We know through the arts that we can improve education outcomes,” Schott said. “And we have kids who are waiting for the opportunity.”

The last time DMPS asked for instrument donations, in July of 2014, dozens of instruments were given to students, including a trumpet that was played in a 1950’s Rose Bowl marching band, KCCI’s Steve Karlin’s wife’s clarinet and Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Mary Tabor’s trumpet.

All instruments are welcome and that DMPS has a special demand for clarinets, flutes, violins, violas, trombones, trumpets, and saxophones.

“We’d like gently used instruments,” Schnackenberg said, “but we’ll take them all.”

Donors will receive a receipt for tax credit purposes and the satisfaction of knowing the instrument is furthering a greater cause.

Instruments can be dropped off at the DMEA Office Building, 206 Center Street (across from Wells Fargo Arena), between 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you need times beyond these hours or for the instrument to be picked up email

If you would like to make a donation to repair an existing instrument, click here.

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