Few schools had it harder than Coleridge Elementary in Detroit. For years, dwindling budgets made it impossible for the school to buy supplies like new textbooks or computers, and faculty cutbacks resulted in class sizes of more than 30 students per teacher. But there’s finally some good news for this struggling school: A wealthy timpani player donated $60 million to help them build a world-class timpani program.
What an incredible gesture!
The philanthropist is Eric Gustav, a timpani enthusiast and heir to an immense fortune who saw a problem he knew he could fix. Before his amazing gift, Coleridge Elementary’s timpani program consisted of one decimated timpani with only a single mallet that all 900 students had to share, far below the national average. But now, the school ranks first in timpani education, and it’s all thanks to one man.
“Growing up, I never needed to worry about whether I would have access to a timpani or not,” explained Eric during a public ceremony at the school. “Every child should have the blessing of timpanis in their lives, no matter how much money they have.”
The grant has already had a transformative effect on the school’s timpani classes. Every single student will have access to a timpani of the highest quality that was manufactured in a 100-year-old Italian drum factory. Previously, the school employed a single music teacher, but now it’s been able to hire 25 full-time timpani tutors, as well as invite timpani guest speakers from leading philharmonics around the world. Best of all, the school was able to purchase an adjacent lot to build an 800-seat concert hall just for timpani practice and timpani recitals.
Last week, things seemed hopeless for the students of Coleridge Elementary. But today, thanks to one man’s magnanimous gift, things are finally looking up for these kids when it comes to playing the timpani. If you needed proof that good still exists in the world, here it is. Bravo!