The show and the music must go on, even when the economy is in a downward spiral, so band directors at Collier County high and middle schools are finding new ways to get instruments into the hands of their students.
For instance, Gulf Coast High School band director Steve DeLadurantey is drumming up support from the community by asking for donations of gently used and antique musical instruments for students to play throughout the school year.
DeLadurantey’s request is in response to an economy that has hit a low key, where luxuries of purchasing pricey instruments to practice with, and even renting instruments, leaves cash-strapped families opting out of band activities all together.
“The numbers are up in middle and high school bands across the county. We’ve always supplied the bigger instruments. However, because the economy is tough, we’re having trouble with some students not being able to afford the instruments they would normally supply for themselves,” explained Deladurantey after a recent break from band practice, in preparation for the upcoming high school football season.
“Collier County Public Schools are very supportive. They provide us with an instrument repair budget, and they are able to buy us one or two instruments per year. We’re thankful for that, but we have to be prepared for a shortage,” said DeLadurantey.
Anyone cleaning out closets of old instruments can march instruments over to any band director, or donate directly to Linda Cummings, the coordinator of Fine Arts for the Collier County School District, at the Martin Luther King Administrative Building.
“We’ll take any band instrument, at any age. It doesn’t matter what shape it is in. Even if there are instruments that haven’t worked for 50 years, they are OK. We’ll use those for parts,” DeLadurantey said.
Adren Hance, band director at East Naples Middle School, follows Deladurantey’s fight song for instruments at the middle school level, too.
“Almost 75 percent of students here are on free or reduced lunch, so the need is here. It is a wonderful thing when we receive an instrument for students,” Hance said. “All instruments are needed, but trombones, oboes, trumpets, clarinets and flutes we need the most.”
Hance thanked Dr. Wolf, who was one of his most recent community donors to his band and orchestra program at the middle school level.
Cummings said the lack of student funds for instruments can be a barrier in participating. For example, the average asking price of a used trombone in top condition can add up for a beginning band student, as prices range anywhere from $300 to $1,125, and prices for a used oboe can set a high school band student back $449 to $1,800, depending on the model purchased.
“When you look at today’s economy, with rental costs running anywhere from $20 to $60 a month, the barrier is there. They may love music, but costs are too high,” Cummings said. “Donations would help students participate again, and studies show that music and the arts helps students with other core subject areas.
“Anybody interested can donate to us, and we can provide a donation letter for them, too,” Cummings said.