Instrument donation drive launched to put music in lives of Detroit kids

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — From Diana Ross, to Jack White to Aaliyah, Detroit has a rich musical legacy — but in recent years, with cuts to school music programs and other factors, city kids often don't have access to music lessons and instruments.

A group of local musicians and entrepreneurs hopes to change that.

Chris Cronus, Founder of Titan Records, talks about the drive to receive guitars to teach kids the art of music.

Tom Nalian, owner of MyHydrationPack, which sells hydration bladders and vests, gives free guitar lessons to Detroit kids. Now, he hopes to give them instruments as well.

The first step in that effort launched Saturday with the "Gift of Music Instrument Drive Party," held at the Detroit Shipping Co. on Peterboro in Detroit's Cass Corridor. As of Saturday afternoon, two guitars, a saxophone, a clarinet and a cowbell had been donated.

"Kids need music in their lives," said Nalian, 35. "It's always great when a kid's eyes light up when they learn how to play a song. Music has saved a lot of us from other bad things we could've been doing."

Also sponsoring the drive: Titan Records, Raising the Bar Detroit Foundation, SoundProof, Skwad Records, Covenant House Academy, Prooven Records, City Air Detroit, and Magical Mitten Productions.

Alex Hare, left, of Skwad Records, Chris Cronus, middle, Founder of Titan Records and Tom Nalian, Founder of MyHydration Pack, pose for a photo.

Titan Records owner Chris Cronus said the group's goal is to someday open a music school in Detroit.

"We'd like to have a place where kids could get free music lessons and instruments," he said.

Cronus said he initially helped kids record rap music, "but more kids were showing up, and not all of them wanted to do hip-hop," he said. "So, we need instruments. We started talking to other artists and producers, and thought it would be a good idea to hold an instrument drive."

The group is planning another drive at the Detroit Shipping Co. on May 21. 

"Music is a release from the daily struggles," SKWAD Records owner Alex Hare said. "Someone helped me out, and now I want to pass that on.

"Music is life," Hare said. "If I can help someone express their feelings through music, and help them cope with life a little easier, then I'm happy. Every kid deserves that opportunity."

To donate new and used musical instruments, email, or