LPS receives historical donation of 700 guitars

At first, Gary Reber thought it must be a typo.

Reber is the annual and major gifts officer for the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools. He was the one who first read the message from someone who wanted to donate 700 guitars to the school district.

“I initially was skeptical,” Reber said.

But it’s true: Local guitar shop owners Dennis Zager and his son, Dennis Zager Jr., made the donation, one of the largest ever for LPS music instruction. The guitars were received at the LPS distribution center last week and are being delivered to schools this week.

The donation was fortuitous. Reber and LPS Supervisor of Music Lance Nielsen recently spoke about the need for more guitars. 

“Donor generosity is something that never ceases to amaze me,” said LPS Supervisor of Music Lance Nielsen. “It is humbling to know LPS students and staff have so many people looking out for them.”

The elder Zager was part of the musical duo Zager & Evans, who found fame when they wrote the number one song of 1969, “In the Year 2525.” Zager and his son, both of whom live in Lincoln, now make guitars that are sold around the world.

“The guitar really changed my father's life growing up and he wanted to give that opportunity to other children,” Zager Jr. said. “Lincoln's also been wonderful to our family and we just wanted to give a little back.”

Nielsen added, “Music is one of those important classes that inspires and engages students to do well in school and having an opportunity to play a guitar might be that defining moment for a student, just like it was for Denny Zager.”

Published: December 15, 2020, Updated: December 16, 2020