- Tom and Elaine Edwards, a University of Tennessee alumni couple, donated $50,000 to the university’s Pride of the Southland Marching Band for new trumpets.
- The Edwards made the donation in response to a request by Gary Sousa, the university’s band director.
- Tom Edwards is a former trumpet player in the UT band.
The Pride of the Southland Marching Band received a $50,000 donation from a University of Tennessee alumni couple to purchase new trumpets for its members.
Tom and Elaine Edwards, UT grads, made the large donation at the beginning of the fall semester after the band’s annual “First Tailgate” after band camp.
Gary Sousa, UT band director and music professor, began asking alumni for donations of individual trumpets, which cost around $1,000 each, at the beginning of the semester in order to have a decent set of trumpets for students to use.
“Having matching instruments is important for sound,” Sousa explained.
Over the years, the band has acquired matching trombone and French horn instruments. They currently have an agreement with Pearl that provides new matching percussion instruments every three years.
Because of the expense of new trumpets, many students were using the instruments they started learning with in middle school, which are smaller and not of professional quality.
Tom Edwards, a former trumpet player in the UT band, immediately responded to Sousa’s request for new trumpets.
“He came to me and asked, ‘When do you want your trumpets?’” Sousa said. Thinking that Edwards was joking, Sousa replied “tomorrow.”
The next day, Sousa received a check for $50,000 to go toward new trumpets for the band.
Current trumpet player, Grant Story, explained how this generosity shows the type of bonds that are formed when students are in band and how the new instruments will help future band members.
“This is really going to benefit future students,” Story said. He explained that the donation will help students who want to be in band but couldn’t normally afford it.
The players got a chance to meet and thank the Edwards’ when they received their trumpets. They are taking special care of the new instruments to make sure they don’t get dinged or scratched.
“We’re treating them like babies,” Story said.
Mr. and Mrs. Edwards have made many other donations to the band in previous years.
The band will perform with the donated trumpets for the first time at the MTSU football game on Saturday.
Editor: Anna Hall, Intercollegiate Online News Stream