The music plays on

Lenihan student gifted violin after losing instrument to tornado

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - Lenihan student Hanna Thomas admires her new violin.

Editors Note: This article was originally published on March 4, 2019. We are re-running the story for the one-year anniversary of the EF-3 tornado.

Becoming an accomplished violin player takes years of practice and dedication, and one Marshalltown student has a chance to continue on her violin journey despite setbacks.

Lenihan Intermediate School student Hanna Thomas was upset the July 19 tornado not only damaged her house at the corner of Woodbury Street and Fourth Avenue, but also severely damaged her beloved school violin.

“That was the first thing she was worried about was her violin. She was freaking out about her violin,” said Hanna’s mother, Ashley Thomas, recalling the storm’s aftermath.

Marshalltown Schools Director of Orchestras Maggie Williams said the instrument was no longer fit to play. The mold had damaged it and gave the violin a foul smell.

Ashley Thomas said as she told Williams about the damaged instrument, she got into a conversation with someone from Cedar Rapids music store Schultz Strings. That conversation led to business president and CEO John Schultz’s visit to the school with a special gift for Hanna – a gleaming, new violin.

“I just like playing it,” Hanna said of the instrument. Compared to other types of string instruments, she said “I feel like this is easier to play.”

Schultz, himself a violinist, said the instrument played a key role in his childhood.

“Without that first violin that was mine, I don’t think I would have been inspired to be a musician,” he said. “I hope you enjoy that too.”

Williams said she was happy for her student.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. Not everyone has a chance to get an instrument like this,” she said.

Schultz Strings, the Marshalltown Youth Foundation and the school district are also planning to partner up to provide more rental instruments to Marshalltown students in the future.

The Cedar Rapids business provides several kinds of instruments to school districts around the state.

Hanna will be able to hold onto the violin she received Wednesday throughout her school musical career. Her mother said the instrument is in good hands.


Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or



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