The youngsters at Bandwagon Institute for the Arts got a surprise on Tuesday afternoon: 20 boxes filled with brand new gear and instruments.
“It’s like Christmas came early,” said 11-year-old Caleb Wintersteen as he waited for the rest of the youngsters who drop by every day after school to jam together.
Wintersteen wasn’t the only one excited to tear into the boxes. About 25 students crammed into the small space Bandwagon maintains at Kukui Grove Center.
Keoni Cannizzaro, 13, from Lihue, said he hoped there were some new drums in the boxes. He wasn’t the only one on the lookout for some new percussion instruments. It was a common wish throughout the group.
“Our drums break all the time now,” said Aysha Berry, 12, from Kalaheo.
And drums they got — among $18,000 worth of other equipment like mixers, stands and stringed instruments.
It was a party that was sparked when Haena resident Neil Dana saw the Bandwagon shuttle bus driving around the island and decided to help the cause.
Dana was part of the partnership that started the company GoPro, and worked there for 11 years before hanging up his hat and moving to Kauai. He’s always had the dream of providing a space for kids to learn music, but knows how much work it takes to start up a new project.
“It’s great for kids to have an outlet to play music and be put in that band atmosphere,” Dana said. “To provide that for so many kids is awesome. I have the ability to donate some money and so I took more of a philanthropist role than starting my own studio.”
Dana reached out to Bandwagon owner Jeremy Hartshorn and asked what he could do to help the learning studio. Hartshorn told him they needed new equipment, and they agreed he’d get Dana a wish list.
“I talked to the kids and some of the staff and made this wish list of everything,” Hartshorn said. “I sent it over to him and told him to pick what he wanted to get. He got us the whole thing.”
Dana said his hope is that the donation will give more kids the opportunity to develop a love for music and learn how to use music as a creative outlet for the rest of their lives.
That’s the mission of Bandwagon in a nutshell — to provide a safe spot to develop musical skills and to make friends.
You can see some of this new equipment in action on Saturday at Kukui Grove when the Bandwagon band Stonehenge plays from 5 to 7 p.m.