My voice is tender, my waist is slender and I’m often invited to play. Yet wherever I go, I must take my bow or else I have nothing to say. What am I?

A violin actually needs more than its bow for its tender voice to be heard. It needs a human hand to hold that bow and lovingly guide it across the strings and a shoulder upon which it can rest so the beauty of that voice can be fully appreciated.

It is with this in mind that McAllen ISD is hosting a Band Instrument Donation Drive this Saturday, Dec. 4, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at two McAllen ISD campuses, Morris Middle School at 1400 Trenton Road and Brown Middle School at 2700 S. Ware Road.

“There are kids out there missing the opportunity of playing in the band or the orchestra because they are unable to afford an instrument,” said Karen Herrera, MISD’s director of Fine Arts. “We know this because our music programs lose a number of students between registration and the time when band instruments must be purchased or rented. Because of the cost involved, they drop the class.”

The cost to rent instruments normally ranges between $15 and $40 per month, according to Herrera. To buy the instruments, parents can often pay between $400 and $1500.

The district rents large instruments like bassoons, oboes and tubas to students for $35 per year, the cost of having the instrument cleaned at the end of the year so it will be ready for the next student.

“For this Donation Drive, we are targeting all band and orchestra instruments in good condition,” Herrera said, “but we have students in K-12 who would also benefit from guitars and pianos. We can use any instruments people donate.”

Herrera said some of the district’s musical directors go to pawn shops to try to find instruments for students who long to play an instrument but whose families are unable to afford it. She knows there must be people in our community who have instruments tucked away in a closet longing for their voices to be heard again.

During the Donation Drive, receipts for tax purposes will be provided. Monetary donations to help purchase instruments for students are welcome. Checks may be made payable to McAllen ISD Fine Arts Department. If you would like to donate an instrument but are unable to go to the Band Instrument Donation Drive, you can contact Herrera at McAllen ISD’s Central Office at 618-6085.

In other McAllen ISD Fine Arts news, McAllen ISD students will soon reap the benefits of a bond between Karen Herrera, director of Fine Arts for the district, and her alma mater, the University of Texas-Austin.

This month, the dean and the associate dean of Fine Arts at UT will come to McAllen to make the final arrangements for four of their students to student teach in McAllen ISD beginning in January.

“We will have four UT students: one in art, one in theatre, one in instruments and one in choir,” Herrera said. “UT is providing them with a fully furnished apartment and a stipend. They have never sent their students to an outside district and set them up like this before.”

Herrera calls this arrangement a win-win for both MISD and UT.

“UT is sending us four of their top students,” Herrera said, “so our students will not only have exposure to these high quality student teachers, but they will also learn from them what it is like to go to UT.” This, Herrera knows, may inspire MISD students to work toward being accepted into UT’s excellent Fine Arts program.

“Our arrangement with UT also allows their students to get out of the I-35 belt and learn about another culture,” Herrera said. “It allows them to learn from our phenomenal teachers. UT recognizes this. They’re excited about it and so are we.”

McAllen ISD warmly welcomes these talented Longhorns.