Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 75 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hiya, so I forgot to bring my saxophone to school so I had to play on the schools alto, But it turned out to be a very poor player to the point of having to push down the keys hard enough to get them to seal properly, do you think the school should keep serviced instruments on hand or should students be encouraged to rent or buy their own? Thanks :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I'd almost say it's discouraging if they know they have to rent when they know other schools provide an instrument without cost
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,814 Posts
Obviously, school districts differ in priorities and budget distribution, no matter what city or country you live in. I disagree about the "discouraging" part. How many sports teams in your school make the kids pay a "fee" for equipment or outright make parents purchase? I'd bet most of them, but I assume they suck it up and pay/purchase whatever they need to. Yes, you'd think the school(s) would have some instruments that are in good playing condition, but unfortunately, it's the time we now live in. Speak up to the principal and/or school board. If you and others stay silent, I guarantee you it won't change.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,537 Posts
The average student in southern Maine cost $15,000 to put through public school, and I think this is fairly average across the country. You'd think they could buy a few Bundys for that kind of tuition!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,018 Posts
You've opened a "can of worms" here. I don't know about Canada, but here in the U.S. each school district has its own policies about band instruments. A typical scenario is that for the smaller, less expensive, instruments such as flutes, clarinets, alto and tenor saxophones, trumpets, and trombones the students are expected to provide their own by buying or renting from a music store. In some low income areas the schools keep a limited number of these instruments that they rent for a nominal fee, and even waive the fee when the situation warrants. Those schools generally rent the more expensive instruments such as oboes, bassoons, bass clarinets, bari saxes, french horns, baritones, and tubas although sometimes students do furnish their own. It goes without saying that the school owned instruments should be kept in good working order. I know of some situations where the student and parents don't pay rent as such, but are expected to have the instrument professionally serviced when needed.

As far as schools having instruments in good condition on hand to loan to students who forget and leave their personal instrument at home, that goes beyond what could reasonably be expected in my experience. The best thing of course is for each student to learn be responsible and show up to each class with the necessary equipment and supplies rather than complain about the situation they created for themselves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
820 Posts
I’ve donated dozens upon dozens of instruments to kids in New Orleans, where the schools (or Tipitina’s) provide most/all instruments as many cannot afford to buy/rent. I have a guy who repairs horns at no charge to get more and more instruments in the system.

What always amazes me is no one there cares about condition of the instrument, as long as it plays, weather perfect or not. It means another kid can play, which is more important than if it plays perfectly....yet somehow they crank out amazing musicians down there constantly.

Yes it’s better if the instrument works perfectly, but sometimes me thinks we overthink it here a tad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,018 Posts
I’ve donated dozens upon dozens of instruments to kids in New Orleans, where the schools (or Tipitina’s) provide most/all instruments as many cannot afford to buy/rent. I have a guy who repairs horns at no charge to get more and more instruments in the system.

What always amazes me is no one there cares about condition of the instrument, as long as it plays, weather perfect or not. It means another kid can play, which is more important than if it plays perfectly....yet somehow they crank out amazing musicians down there constantly.

Yes it’s better if the instrument works perfectly, but sometimes me thinks we overthink it here a tad.
As a repair tech who specializes in saxophones I do "play conditions" a lot. In my terminology that means the pads seal every tonehole perfectly with light to very moderate pressure on the open keys so that it plays down to low Bb playing softly without a subtone. In this definition a saxophone "plays" or it doesn't. I don't subscribe to the practice of making a saxophone play "well enough" for a student who will not be using the extremes of the instrument's range. There are other factors that are addressed when doing overhauls such as cosmetic work and addressing key noise that add considerably to the time and cost, but in terms of "playing" the overhaul and "play condition" have the same standard for pads sealing. Of course the precise key fitting and tonehole leveling done on an overhaul does permit the lightest key touch possible to form a seal. The "play condition" due to time and cost constraints does not reach this level.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2014
Joined
·
5,160 Posts
As a band director at the middle school level, I grab whatever is closest if a kid doesn’t have his or her instrument. Most of our school horns are in repair but sometimes school loaner instruments get knocked out of regulation by other students who forget instruments. Next time have your sax.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
17,996 Posts
You know most replies here are actually along the lines of 'onus is on the particular school district'. Looking at it thru a wider socio-political lens...since 1980 we have been living in a system which has redirected vast sums of public monies away from public education and towards ...ahem, 'other' things.

This has forced many families who either insist on their right to a good public education (yes, it's a right, dammit) or have no option other than one, to start funding arts and athletics programs themselves, since the districts obviously do not have the ultimate decision-making capacities as they are too are at the mercy of municipal, state, federal funding allocations...all of which, as I noted above, has shifted reprehensibly AWAY from education funding.

I raised my daughter mostly by myself, and she went thru the SF Public School system in a period where it was considered by many parents to be 'scary bad'.
Of course, as a whole it wasn't, but one had to play the game to get placement into the preferred school, and then it was up to a very active PTA at all three schools (elementary, middle, and HS) to do the fundraising sufficiently to provide the students with an Art and Music department, as well as a PE teacher in elementary school - as by then the school district employed none at that level.
All of which we did - but again, the notion that Arts education had to be funded by silent auctions, bake sales, monthly donations from families who could mostly not afford to, form an active grant writing group, and do carwashes....and ended up being around maybe 33% of the school families mustering this - was, and continues to be, reprehensible. More reprehensible when you then considered that in this public education infrastructure...only around 33% of all of the district schools HAD an PTA driven (and 'wealthy') enough, and a creative Administrator dedicated enough to pull it off.
So the end result would be a pretty big imbalance of programs and assets from one school to the next. (Add to this the usual exposing now and again of the fact that the District actually funneled more money into their high-profile 'flagship' schools than the ones which desperately needed those funds the most - NOT an uncommon thing nationwide).

So, back to the OP...my answer would be 'yes'....every public school should have a band room with decent-functioning instruments available to any student/family who wishes to be part of their music program. IMHO even charging a nominal rental fee (with allowance for sliding scale or free if necessary) for the year is not unreasonable.

And if the school does this, yes they should be kept in decent tack, and the cost of such should be covered at least somewhat by the district, and not solely by the student's family).

But the sad reality at the moment is, we are not living in a system which values Creative Arts education.
...the notion of Arts education here in the US has never really been considered as a 'practical' or 'useful' as compared to say math and literature....so as the powers that be have been able to portray it to American society as 'fluff'...it's always the first program to get slashed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
397 Posts
Teach in CA here.

We MUST provide material to all students and are not allowed to charge fees, period. Now...some do, you can also ask for a "Donation," but you cannot require anything and you MUST provide something for every student who asks. I fully support having instruments, how else would you get tuba players?! I teach in a low-income area and I would rather these kids play my instruments (good quality) than buy their own $50 sax or $30 violin. I know mine at least started as quality student horns.

But money is ALWAYS the issue. With no money comes no repair budget. I inherited a program that was dead and buried. Currently 40% of my instruments are unplayable and I am working towards making them playing condition. If it doesn't play 100%, it doesn't go out. I too don't believe in "good enough." It can be ugly and clicky, but it needs to work. Should 100% be playable? YES OF COURSE. But...alas it all comes back to money. I get $0 for my program, so all funds are fundraised and with a small program in a low income area, it takes time.

TL;DR Yes, schools should provide working instruments. Reality often gets in the way of that despite the music director's best efforts.

---edit---

Don't get me started on how education funds are allocated...funds ought to be going to Arts programs across the board. *grumble grumble* I'll keep my rants to myself.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
17,996 Posts
Teach in CA here.

We MUST provide material to all students and are not allowed to charge fees, period. Now...some do, you can also ask for a "Donation," but you cannot require anything and you MUST provide something for every student who asks. I fully support having instruments, how else would you get tuba players?! I teach in a low-income area and I would rather these kids play my instruments (good quality) than buy their own $50 sax or $30 violin. I know mine at least started as quality student horns.

But money is ALWAYS the issue. With no money comes no repair budget. I inherited a program that was dead and buried. Currently 40% of my instruments are unplayable and I am working towards making them playing condition. If it doesn't play 100%, it doesn't go out. I too don't believe in "good enough." It can be ugly and clicky, but it needs to work. Should 100% be playable? YES OF COURSE. But...alas it all comes back to money. I get $0 for my program, so all funds are fundraised and with a small program in a low income area, it takes time.

TL;DR Yes, schools should provide working instruments. Reality often gets in the way of that despite the music director's best efforts.
First off, my hat is off to you for your dedication.

May I ask ?.....when you say you are working towards getting 'em playable...is it YOU who is funding this yourself ? Or is the school, PTA, district, or even donations from band families, etc. pitching in at all ?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
397 Posts
First off, my hat is off to you for your dedication.

May I ask ?.....when you say you are working towards getting 'em playable...is it YOU who is funding this yourself ? Or is the school, PTA, district, or even donations from band families, etc. pitching in at all ?
It's everything I can get. I fundraise with my students and that money goes for everything: festivals, repertoire, field trips (top 3 things). The school has funds, however they are "earmarked" for certain things. For example, I am advising the purchase of a new sound system, but not for music. It is for "the entire student body" even though they're really for music and drama, since we'll use them. The funds are set aside for "Technology Purchases" that affect the entire school.

PTA kicks in when they can, but it's always for a specific "thing." If I need a new cello, I can ask the PTA and they can raise funds for a shiny, new thing.

I'll ALWAYS take donations fro families, businesses, anywhere. But it's had to advertise "repairs" as something exciting compared to a BRAND NEW TROMBONE WOOOOOOW. That aspect frustrates me because what is *really* needed is money in the right place, not necessarily a new instrument.

It's like diet and exercise vs. the next new dietary supplement fad. Diet and Exercise isn't exciting and it's hard, but a miracle drug is easy and fun!*shrug* I am lucky and grateful to have a supportive administration and district that allows me to work around the tape to get funds where they ought to be. I also totally understand why funds are earmarked (the possibility of misuse is frightening at times). But it does make it difficult to DO anything.

Different districts' support varies from "we'll take care of everything" to "cut all music" from neighboring cities. It tends to be an "I wish we could give you more money, but we have none to give!" I think that attitude is worse than "I think it's unimportant" because that's just a lie: they don't value it, so they'll starve it to death and say, "Oh, they're not doing well, we can cut it," instead of opening it up for a fight/defense by all involved. I think Music (well, all electives) should be given equal financial support as other classes. But education is SO expensive...textbook adoption is a racket and disgusts me and that's not their fault, that's pure edu-business-politicking.

*gets off soap box*

Luckily, I love my job and wouldn't trade it for anything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
School instruments should be provided by the school the trouble is servicing them, it's expensive to repair them but it's better than having a student play a $50 horn from India or China. Around here most students rent an instrument form a company called Marshal Music, it's easier for the beginner students because it's not super expensive and if they don't continue to play the instrument it won't sit around. For older students, I would encourage them to buy an instrument unless they're going to be playing something like rarer or more expensive like an alto clarinet, bari sax, or tuba. The school should have back up instruments for the students who may need to repair them, they don't have to be high quality they just need to work, it's nice to send them in every 5 years or so so they don't get to beat up. As for the bigger and more expensive instruments I mentioned earlier you should always have those and if a student is going to play it should be served more often because it's hard for students to obtain those instruments and it's not good to have something like a bari sax if it doesn't play.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,537 Posts
But the sad reality at the moment is, we are not living in a system which values Creative Arts education.
...the notion of Arts education here in the US has never really been considered as a 'practical' or 'useful' as compared to say math and literature....so as the powers that be have been able to portray it to American society as 'fluff'...it's always the first program to get slashed.
With budgets around $15,000 per student per year it makes one wonder why they're having to have bake sales for basic necessities.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member/, Official SOTW Sister
Joined
·
19,215 Posts
No. Large things like tuba, tympani, marimba, baritone sax, or bass/contra clarinets... sure.
Anything else, buy or rent your own.
Forget your instrument? Sit in your section and play your pencil.
Horn in the shop? Sit in your section and play your pencil. Maybe you'll learn to remember what is required for class, or be more careful.
Schools should NOT have to provide EVERYTHING.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,474 Posts
With budgets around $15,000 per student per year it makes one wonder why they're having to have bake sales for basic necessities.
Well, check out salaries, perks, benefits and money outright stolen and redirected to unauthorized personal use by top administrators in large urban school districts. Add to that the complete new set of unnecessary curriculum materials supplied to every teacher every year in compliance to whatever education fad has captured the school board or superintendent's fantasy (which material all the teachers promptly stuff on the top shelf of the closet along with last year's fad's materials and the year before's fad's materials and so on and so on...) Add to that the cost of hiring this year's crop of fresh-out-of-education-school consultants to spend fifteen days a year telling classroom teachers with 30 years experience how to do their jobs. Add to that the cost of developing (but never maintaining) the weirdo in-house-developed softwares for functions that could be done more inexpensively and reliably by off-the-shelf softwares. Add to that the constant capital expenditures for "technology" because kids can't just learn to read with Dick and Jane primers like they have since the Roman alphabet was developed, no, in the last 20 years they each need a laptop computer to learn how to read and write and do arithmetic.

Does this give you any idea how the school district could spend what looks like $15,000 per student?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
820 Posts
You know most replies here are actually along the lines of 'onus is on the particular school district'. Looking at it thru a wider socio-political lens...since 1980 we have been living in a system which has redirected vast sums of public monies away from public education and towards ...ahem, 'other' things.

This has forced many families who either insist on their right to a good public education (yes, it's a right, dammit) or have no option other than one, to start funding arts and athletics programs themselves, since the districts obviously do not have the ultimate decision-making capacities as they are too are at the mercy of municipal, state, federal funding allocations...all of which, as I noted above, has shifted reprehensibly AWAY from education funding.

I raised my daughter mostly by myself, and she went thru the SF Public School system in a period where it was considered by many parents to be 'scary bad'.
Of course, as a whole it wasn't, but one had to play the game to get placement into the preferred school, and then it was up to a very active PTA at all three schools (elementary, middle, and HS) to do the fundraising sufficiently to provide the students with an Art and Music department, as well as a PE teacher in elementary school - as by then the school district employed none at that level.
All of which we did - but again, the notion that Arts education had to be funded by silent auctions, bake sales, monthly donations from families who could mostly not afford to, form an active grant writing group, and do carwashes....and ended up being around maybe 33% of the school families mustering this - was, and continues to be, reprehensible. More reprehensible when you then considered that in this public education infrastructure...only around 33% of all of the district schools HAD an PTA driven (and 'wealthy') enough, and a creative Administrator dedicated enough to pull it off.
So the end result would be a pretty big imbalance of programs and assets from one school to the next. (Add to this the usual exposing now and again of the fact that the District actually funneled more money into their high-profile 'flagship' schools than the ones which desperately needed those funds the most - NOT an uncommon thing nationwide).

So, back to the OP...my answer would be 'yes'....every public school should have a band room with decent-functioning instruments available to any student/family who wishes to be part of their music program. IMHO even charging a nominal rental fee (with allowance for sliding scale or free if necessary) for the year is not unreasonable.

And if the school does this, yes they should be kept in decent tack, and the cost of such should be covered at least somewhat by the district, and not solely by the student's family).

But the sad reality at the moment is, we are not living in a system which values Creative Arts education.
...the notion of Arts education here in the US has never really been considered as a 'practical' or 'useful' as compared to say math and literature....so as the powers that be have been able to portray it to American society as 'fluff'...it's always the first program to get slashed.

My daughter's school, in Westchester County NY (one of the wealthiest in the US) has seen the same attack on the arts. In districts where spending is upwards of $20,000-$30,000 per student, arts are still being reduced. The art classroom was eliminated and converted into 'ART ON A CART' so they could add another classroom. The band program is a joke:
1. Students buy or rent their own instruments through local shops.
2. The band director is from an outside Arts/Drama studio, with zero educational background in teaching, and it shows!
3. Students are taught the songs for the concert, period. No care, tone, technique, etc.
My daughter plays sax and actually dropped out of band in favor of lessons from me and playing with me. She actually learns something.

I understand things are different in other places as above, however, remember, in various areas there are lots of problems with arts/music education. My friend Ivan Hunter from Jaeger Brass started a charity to promote recreational music playing and instruction in the area cause he was fed up with how students are taught (or not taught) in this area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,943 Posts
I’ve donated dozens upon dozens of instruments to kids in New Orleans, where the schools (or Tipitina’s) provide most/all instruments as many cannot afford to buy/rent. I have a guy who repairs horns at no charge to get more and more instruments in the system.

What always amazes me is no one there cares about condition of the instrument, as long as it plays, weather perfect or not. It means another kid can play, which is more important than if it plays perfectly....yet somehow they crank out amazing musicians down there constantly.

Yes it’s better if the instrument works perfectly, but sometimes me thinks we overthink it here a tad.
Tipitina's supports band programs now? Wow. Wonderful. During the previous century, in the public schools, anyone who wanted to be in the band got an instrument (a loaner) and a marching uniform if he wanted to be in the marching band. I'm really happy to hear that band programs are being supported by the private sector now. When I left LA, the state was bankrupt.

On topic: Yes, if a school lends instruments, it should maintain them. When I was in HS, the school board had contracts (acquired through bid) with Werlein's and Grunewald's (the major N.0. music stores) to maintain the school instruments. I know that Grunewald's went belly-up a long time ago, and the Werlein's on Canal Street is no longer there.

A lot of schools nationwide abandoned their local arts program after the '90's NEA scandals, and it has been a long, slow climb back to normalcy since then. If one's school doesn't maintain the instruments, talk to the band director. He may not know that the instrument is in bad condition.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
Joined
·
3,310 Posts
If you are going to go to the expense of providing teachers and space for musical tuition and time in the shedule, then it only makes sense to me to fund the program properly so that kids have access to functional starter instruments. The facts regarding the benefits of musical education on other aspects of a childs development are extremely well know by now, it should really be a "no brainer" to support music in the classroom, but sadly music is still seen as a soft target for budget cuts.

Its a false economy I think to cut corners, if you are paying the teachers to be there to teach the kids, then provide serviceable instruments for the kids to play. Its hard enough to learn without placing either financial obstacles in the child (or parents) way, and technical limitations due to the poor state of the instruments.

Having kids provide their own instrument at first may well push kids to choose an instrument that parents have been able to fund, rather than exposing them to a number of available instruments and having some process to determine what instrument that child has an aptitude for?

On the other hand kids need to learn to treat instruments with respect, so providing one for free may not instill in them the sense of value that it has, and encourage them to take good care of it.

I think it would make a lot of sense to have something similar to the "shop materials fee" that Ive seen in woodworking class. Maybe have parents pay $50-100 for the year to cover potential instrument repair costs and to fund occasional new purchases with any excess over time. Parents already pay insurance fees to cover sports teams, hundreds for multiday field trips, or fees for materials used in shop classes, so whats one more fee if it makes the overall music education system function better. If its in leau of paying an instrument rental cost then its a wash anyway. The more affordable you make music, the more people will participate, and the more people that participate the more fees you bring in to cover the pool of available instruments, so there is a sweet spot to be found. It almost makes sense for the school district to have instrument repair techs on staff to service the district instrument pool rather than pay outside fees all the time. Local music stores though would suffer from loss of rentals and repairs until the kids grow up and take their new love of music with them into life after school.

I'm not expecting school horns to be kept in a whisper smooth state, but all notes should play, mechanisms should move freely, springs should be engaged and corks and felts present and kids should be able to play without having to fight the horn.

Having just moved to South Carolina I have my beef with many of the deficiencies in the schooling here, but the music department has been an improvement over our experience in Ontario, band is every day event rather than once a week, the school has a number of instruments available (there are 5 tubas in Gr7 band!), the teacher even provides free reeds to the woodwinds, which were 2or3 bucks each in Canada. The band is encouraged to participate in competitions and individual students encouraged to try out for regional and state bands, so kudos to the teachers for that. Im sure budgets are tight, but in treating music the same as math and english rather than as a hour a week afterthough I think there are wider benefits for the participants. I wish they would take the same attitude towards physical exercise, but thats a whole other topic...
 
1 - 20 of 75 Posts
Top