When students enter the sixth grade at Montesano Junior High they get a chance to become a part of the band program, but often a student’s family may not have the money to purchase an instrument. That is when band teacher Maria Hoffman always seems to find an instrument from somewhere to loan the student.
But the loaners are just getting too old and parents see the need and are asking for the community’s help. Some of the instruments that are being used by band members are so old that the manufacturers no longer make parts for them. The last time one of the band’s timpanis needed to be repaired, a student’s father donated time to be able to construct the part needed to get the kettledrum back in order.
With a quick scan of one of the storage closets one can find a tuba with dings all around the instrument and a sousaphone that has a mouthpiece being held together with athletic tape and a pencil.
Without the instruments that have been donated to the school, Hoffman says her high school band would be without almost a quarter of its members. It is with helping efforts such as donated instruments or chaperones in mind that Hoffman and a few community members have begun the Bulldog Band Booster Club.
“It is something I’ve always wanted and we tried to get it off the ground and running, but I didn’t have super moms,” Hoffman said. “It has been great to have a group of parents to take it and try to get it going.”
Marie Ross, one of the super moms Hoffman mentioned, heard about the booster club that Elma High School had for its band and she decided the boosters would be a great opportunity to help the Montesano band take a step forward.
The group of parents and community members will help by providing instruments to replace those the school already has that are broken or just too old, as well as provide any other assistance Hoffman may need for the band.
That would include chaperones on a field trip, cooking a meal for band members or even a set of ears to listen to the latest piece.
“We have an expensive hobby,” Hoffman said. “Instruments, like appliances in your house, they don’t last forever no matter how good you take care of them. Drumsticks don’t last forever, reeds wear out, valve oil gets used.”
Senior Gabriel Spearin plays the trumpet, but he also has learned the French Horn for symphonic band. Without the ability to loan a French horn from the school, he said he never would have learned the instrument, but with an instrument that has not aged well it is hard for him to get the desired sound out of the horn.
When Kaitlyn Bradley was in middle school her instrument always seemed to be breaking. No matter how many times she had trouble, there was always an extra instrument to play and now the junior is a drum major.
“If you go to the football games the first thing you notice is the band,” Bradley said. “If there is no band then it isn’t as exciting.”
The help given by the booster club will help make the students better musicians and better people, Hoffman said.
“It teaches them teamwork and work ethic,” Hoffman said. “Those are such important skills for them. There is no second string in band. Nobody’s on the bench, everybody is in the game playing the whole time and that interacting and working together is huge. How many companies would love if their employees did that. It is preparing them to be successful adults in whatever they do.”
In order to be able to help the students, the booster club will first need funding so they have begun to look into fundraisers. The group’s first fundraiser will be a dance and desserts from 3- 5 p.m. on Feb. 9 with music provided by the Montesano High School and Elma High School jazz bands. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased by contacting Ross at (360) 581-3334.