Carmel sixth-grader finds purpose through orchestra
By Terri Spilman
“May you always do for others and let others do for you.”
It’s a prolific message penned by singer Bob Dylan, but it also describes a way of life for one of Dylan’s youngest fans, Carmel Middle School student Josh Honig.
Josh launched a nonprofit organization called Kidstruments Fund to provide schools and school districts with instruments for aspiring young musicians in need.
But the charity’s roots began in an unlikely place.
While most 11-year-old kids could not build a website in a matter of minutes, computers are Josh’s passion, and he started programming at the age of 7. But in a twist of fate, he chose Orchestra for his only elective class instead of Tech Ed because he’d already mastered the curriculum.
That decision opened the door for him to learn how to play the cello. And in his orchestra class, a random act of kindness served as the impetus for Kidstruments.
“It did not start as an intent of what we are doing now,” Josh said. “I was in orchestra class, and my teacher had this very sentimental violin, and it fell off the music stand and it didn’t look broken until I saw a huge crack in the side. So I went home that night and set up a website and raised about $450 – which was the cost needed to fix it.”
As it turned out, Josh’s instructor did not accept the donation, which left him pondering the question of what to do with the funds.
“So I just had this money and I wanted to make it about music,” he said.
After discussing the situation with school administrators, as well as his parents David and Robyn Honig, Josh discovered that there were in fact students whose family could not afford the expense of renting an instrument for the school year. Those rentals can cost about $60 a month.
“They (the school) have a lot of programs to help kids in need but they didn’t have one specifically for music,” Robyn Honig said. “And that was sort of a shock to all of us.”
Shocking because the Honig family are classical music enthusiasts.
With the realization that starting a business is a serious commitment and more than just a hobby, Josh plunged forth with his vision. Kidstruments Fund was officially born, complete with his mom and dad as members of the board.
Through the organization’s website, Kidstrumentsfund.org, about $1,500 has been raised so far with the first grant being awarded to Carmel Middle School.
The school has anonymously chosen a family to have an instrument of their choice paid for and maintained for the school year. The school’s principal, Lila Jay, said the family that received the instrument was thrilled.
“Josh is an exceptional student and leader. We are really fortunate to have a student like him in our school,” Jay said. “I am looking forward to his leadership at Carmel Middle School in the years to come.”
Donations to the Kidstruments Fund also can be made via the smile.amazon.com charity program. Kidstruments is concentrating its efforts on schools and school districts in Indiana and it has also received grant requests from out of state.
The organization is also refurbishing instruments for donation to schools in need.
The results leave Josh feeling good because he said music has provided him a form of stress relief. And he thinks it’s pretty neat to be able play a range of music on the cello, from 8-bit gaming songs to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
“I just think that if you can boost your self-confidence, you can boost what you like doing because someone might love to play an instrument and they might not even know it,” he said.
“They could even become a professional, and if they don’t get to play in middle school, they may not ever become a professional. It could really be a life-changer.”