WHITEFISH, Mont. - The Whitefish Music Department got a boost, all thanks to a mystery donor and a very generous gift.
For Whitefish band, choir, and orchestra students, new equipment is hard to come by - and band director Mark McCready knows it more than most.
"We have some old baritones at the middle school that are 40, 50 years old," said McCready. "We have students who are playing on what I call 'closet clunkers,' it does affect their motivation."
But in a surprise move a few weeks ago, an anonymous donor gave the music department $30,000 through the Whitefish Community Foundation.
"I received an email from her and just about jumped out of my chair," McCready explained.
McCready and the band receive $20,000, $9,000 goes to the orchestra and choir, and $1,000 towards the purchase of sheet music. Prices for new instruments aren't cheap, though. A tuba can cost upwards of $2,000-$3,000 each.
Students were thrilled to hear about the gift that will give them a chance to grow and develop as musicians.
"I think having these instruments and hearing how good they sound will encourage younger kids to play those more difficult instruments," said junior Sloan Ellis.
Because the district lacks funding to buy or replace instruments, choir robes, and other equipment, the music department has been creative with fundraising and applying for grants over the years. But it's donations like these, McCrady says, that keep the music alive.
"We live in a community that's very supportive of music and the arts," McCrady said, "and we couldn't be more grateful for that."
"Band's really important. It's often over looked by a lot of people that say 'I just don't have time in my schedule,'" said Ellis. "But it's good to have that time to sort of let your creative brain be activated. I feel that music and the money that helps music grow is really important for everyone to have a little bit of in their lives."