There wasn’t a sour note to be heard among the band students at Zebulon Middle School last week.
National Pawn owner Bob Moulton visited Zebulon Middle School Thursday morning to present a donation of more than 100 instruments and a $2,000 check for the upkeep of those instruments, which will be distributed among Wake County middle school band programs.
This is the fifth year the company has donated new and gently-used instruments to school systems in counties where it has stores – Durham, New Hanover, Orange and Wake. Cumberland County joined that list this year with National Pawn’s acquisition of a new store in Hope Mills.
As someone who played in the band in middle and high school, Moulton understands the value of music to young students’ lives.
“I have friends of mine that I still hang out with almost weekly that I met in the band,” he said. “I enjoyed going to school because I looked forward to band and looked forward to having fun, never realizing until I was an adult that I was learning math, comprehension, reading and team building, because you have to play as a team. When you learn, and you don’t realize you’re learning – you’re just having fun – that is so powerful.”
He also understands there are costs associated with becoming a musician.
When his parents struggled to buy him a new cornet in his school days, they sought a second-hand alternative.
“I realized we have access to all these instruments, and some of them may not be the best looking things, but they’re all playable,” Moulton said of the donations. “Whatever circumstances families are in that their children are unable to be in the band, if I can provide them that opportunity then it is fantastic.”
Some of the same students attending Thursday’s presentation at the middle school were Zebulon Elementary School students in 2012, when Fidelity Investments presented a large donation of instruments there.
ZMS band instructor Ryan Robinson said as music programs continue to grow in numbers, so , too, does the need for the tools required to participate.
“In light of all the financial turmoil that’s gone on over the past few years, a lot more families just can’t afford to do, but a lot more children want to do,” Robinson said. “They have to weigh their options: do we eat and have a place to stay, or do we give our children this opportunity? Usually shelter and food come first.
“It’s important that the schools have a way to make it happen and I think this gift that Mr. Moulton gives makes it a lot easier for kids to be able to do it.”
Moulton doesn’t want to be a one-man band in this initiative.
Plenty of people, he said, have unused instruments collecting dust in attics, basements and garages.
“I’d like to challenge citizens out there, former band geeks like me, that might have a trumpet, trombone, flute or clarinet just laying there that they haven’t played in a while,” Moulton said. “Go take it to your local middle school and donate it yourself. If you’re not in a position to donate it, please bring it to any National Pawn location and I will buy it from you just so that I can donate it, because we cannot get enough.”
The final stop on this year’s donation tour is set for Tuesday Sept. 15, at Shepard Middle School in Durham.