Community Outreach Instruments in the Attic

Instruments Gotcha Day Provides Musical Support for Schools

MCAA’s instrument donation program, Instruments in the Attic, launched a new initiative providing needed instruments to area Title I schools, collaborating with Mason students from the Dewberry School of Music NAfME student organization and Day Violins.

“It’s really nice to get instrument donations that we can give to the students,” said Paul Erickson, a Fairfax County elementary school band teacher who has dedicated 22 years of his career to music education for young children. “Many of our students cannot afford to buy or rent an instrument from a store. Now, we could provide our students with the instruments. We appreciate Mason putting this together for us.”


The new initiative, Instruments Gotcha Day, aims to loan gently used instruments donated from the community to area’s schools that struggle to purchase instruments. Samantha Clarke, the community outreach coordinator at the Academy, who organized the inaugural Band Instrument Gotcha Day event, shared that the music educators who came to the event have a budget to repair but no funding to purchase instruments.

“They are in a difficult situation where they don’t have access to what they need for their students,” said Clarke, Mason doctoral student in conducting, who experienced funding challenges during her teaching career in New York. “We can provide these schools the access to more instruments through our Instruments in the Attic program. Schools can repair any instruments as needed to extend the lives of instruments so that more students can play an instrument for the first time.”


The Academy partnered with George Mason University Dewberry School of Music to plan the event with the support from Mason’s NAfME student organization and Day Violins to facilitate the recycling, repairs, and reuse process.

“We are proud to be a part of this initiative,” said Zoe Lamb, president of the Mason NAfME chapter and a music education graduate student. “It’s a great way to get music education students involved, and this is a great opportunity for everyone to get together and give back to the community.”


Weeks leading to the Gotcha Day event, Lamb and the Mason NAfME chapter members examined and cleaned all the band instruments before hundreds of instruments were displayed outside Day Violins. More than 15 local Title I school band directors, and music educators in Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun counties received 100+ instruments to support their program.

“This has become a dream come true for us,” said Jenna Day, owner of Day Violins and member of the Academy Advisory Board since 2008. Along with her husband, Jason Day, the couple has helped the Academy repair all the string instruments at the Day Violins, a family-owned string instrument shop in Chantilly, Virginia.


“We have a large number of instruments donated by the community that need to be in the hands of students,” said Jenna. “I put my passion into making sure all the instruments are repaired and the community people get them. This is an amazing program.”

Established in 2008, Instruments in the Attic has received more than 1,100 instruments from community members. The program has loaned out 600+ instruments to schools and individuals and supported school band and orchestra programs. Instrument petting zoo programs were held in various preschools and community events. More than 100 instruments were delivered to underdeveloped regions to help them establish their music programs, including El Salvador, Haiti, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Africa.


Another Gotcha Day is slated for spring 2022, with an emphasis on string instruments and guitars. To support our new initiative, please consider donating gently used instruments to the program or contributing to the Instruments in the Attic fund to support instrument repair and program expenses.