Six clarinets, four trumpets, three French horns and two flutes arrived in Ann Bakken’s Nicollet Middle School classroom with the help of a friend. The instruments worth about $35,000 came as a surprise to Bakken who was struggling to find instruments for her music classes.
Bakken’s class size doubled when her junior high school made the transition to a middle school this year. With more students and too few instruments, students had to make do. It got to a point where students were practicing the clarinet on drum sticks for weeks, she said.
Running out of options, the teacher of 23 years turned to her local community for help. While she received some donated instruments, there were not enough to meet the needs of her students.
“I had twice as many band kids, and I didn’t have enough instruments to put into their hands,” Bakken said.
Then school resource officer Beverly Price stepped in. Price, who played in band as a child, wanted to give back to the school she serves by giving back to Bakken.
“She is always cheerful and the kids love her,” Price said. “This year when I came in, she was just down.”
Bakken mentioned one day that her students needed new instruments. Price then reached out to the Manilow Music Project. She was not expecting their response. The organization immediately offered $35,000 worth of instruments.
“She was really sneaky about finding out what I needed,” Bakken said of Price. Bakken said she thought that Price was simply curious about the number of instruments she needed because she knew someone interested in donating.
“I was so stressed out to get [the students] instruments,” Bakken said. “I had no idea that she was talking to the Barry Manilow Music Project and that these folks were going to help us out.”
The Manilow Music Project donated 15 instruments to Price for Bakken’s music class. But Price wanted to wait until just the right moment to tell her.
“When I got the first e-mail saying they were going to help, I could hear my heart beat through my vest,” Price said.
On Dec. 1, Price surprised Bakken with the instruments during her eighth-grade concert series.
Price had told Bakken that she wanted to give a presentation on cellphone thefts to the parents and students attending the concert series.
Price quickly broke off the presentation to deliver a speech about Bakken’s hard work at the school, then surprised her with the instruments.
“We can now take kids who have never played before,” Bakken said. “I am so grateful.”