USA in the Morning

Mr Mike's Musings

Yet Another Almost Fight

I have seen a lot of arguments over the years as a HS teacher and marching band coach, and I knows a thing or two about how to get it to stop before it really gets started. In fact, before practice just the other day, a row broke out between two band members. As with most kids, it was probably over a trivial matter at best. It always turns out to be nonsense although to the participants at the time, it is the most important thing on earth. There is an innate desire to win in some teens. In others, they like to pick a fight out of boredom. They like the dynamics. On the other hand, I try to anticipate problems and keep problem people away from each other.

It is not always easy to stop a fight midstream, but I have a few tips you can use on your children. If you want more, see this blog: https://www.selfdefenseguide.org/de-escalation-techniques-really-work/ Above all, stay calm and do not enter into the melee. Do not yell or shout orders. I believe in victory without violence. I remember in the Old Rascal movies, the teacher would take Alfalfa by the ears and drag him away. If only it were that easy! I prefer the method of de-escalation that is taught in every martial arts studio across the globe. It is a principle of self defense that avoids aggression. This is an acquired skill and it comes in mighty handy when things between your students start to become physical.

It is not just a matter of “walking away” although that is an option. In a real tough situation, you can be followed. In true martial arts, it is not the honorable move. Practitioners learn how to reduce the level of intensity of an encounter that may result in considerable aggression or an “escalation” of a fight. For example, verbal attacks can result in pushes and shoves, then the fists begin to fly. I have seen it all. My job is to nip it in the bud. While a little band member tussle is not what you might encounter on the street, it does show the power of de-escalation. A teacher wants to avoid using force and relies on the use of reason to appeal to the students’ good sense. I don’t threaten either party and I don’t always know who started the trouble. You don’t want to enter into the fray. I try to solve the issue at hand.

In real life, I wouldn’t challenge an attacker which means a verbal come down, finger pointing, or a come-on gesture. With kids, you can command them, but if they are in the midst of it, it might not work. You can grab them by the shoulders while repeating “calm down.” Above all, you must gain control. Remind them who the boss is. I try to de-escalate the situation while maintaining their self respect. I always tell parents that your mouth can get you into trouble, but it can also get you out.

Teenagers’ Sense of Humor

As Mr. Mike, I love directing the band. The students are at that age when they respond to you and sometimes there is even a bond that forms over time. This happens when some kids are part of the band year after year until graduation. We are joined by the music and by the experiences we encounter over the school year. I enjoy the group activities, and sometimes they get out of hand; but overall the kids are a good group and behave appropriately as needed. They don’t give me a rough time. That is not the nature of a school band. Most of all, they enjoy practice and participating as agreed. I rarely have a no show or a bad attitude.

We all understand our roles and perform them to perfection. Meanwhile, I get some ribbing from the students as they feel comfortable with me. They tell me their favorite family stories and share personal experiences. It is very healthy to have an outlet at this age—at a time when parents don’t often listen. And then there are those times when our relationship spills over into the realm of jokes and tricks. They hide things from me just to get my goat. They whisper among themselves knowing that I want in on the information. If they don’t get a reaction, they will continue on until I beg to be told. I would describe band practice and performance as a wonderful time for everyone without exception. Kids tend to stay with it as a result and they get better and learn to hone their skills.

Sometimes the joking is rather benign. In fact, most times it is and it is never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings—mine or other students. Sometimes it is playful and just lets me know that they are paying attention to my presence. They like to tease or mess up the field formations now and then for a little harmless fun. For another example, they have named my tactical LED flashlight that I found at http://www.flashlightpro.net/best-tactical-led-flashlights/, Tacki. Not too imaginative, but I get the point. This tells me that they have noticed its frequent presence, especially early in the morning during practice when it is still a bit dark out. They associate it with me. I also use it late in the afternoon as the light grows dim—as the sun sets on the field. It is a beautiful time of day but we all need a bit of illumination to find our way around.

I am sure that I will have other stories to tell, but for now the existence of Tacki amuses me and tickles my funny bone. I can’t say enough about how I enjoy the band and each and every member. Each student has his own talent and personality. In the future, I am sure you will hear more. Individual emerge as they grow more comfortable with me and the mentor relationship. Then groups also form as friendships blossom.

Songs Kids Actually Like Performing

Any teacher can tell you that it can be tricky keeping kids interested in the class curriculum. Its no different for music classes! While teaching the classics is an important part of our music lessons, we also need to keep the students interested and enthusiastic about what they are playing. The more interested, the more effort they make and the better they sound. And its all about challenging them to exercise those musical muscles so that they can improve.

I’ve found that kids like to play modern and upbeat songs mostly. Have a listen to what is popular or ask your students for some ideas on what they would like to learn. If its something that they struggle with or a piece that has no “life” to it, they will lose interest fast and not give their best. But if its something they are familiar with, say a song from the latest action movie, they tend to really get into those.

The challenge these days are in finding songs that are deemed acceptable for certain age groups. So I’m forever trying to compromise with my students to find songs they like that don’t involve sex, swearing or violence in them. A good example here is “Firework” by Katy Perry. Its upbeat and the song itself is about self esteem. A lot of kids relate to this one so it’s a favorite we like to play quite a bit.

A classic favorite that kids like playing is “Entry of the Gladiators” for its circus fairground appeal. It also gives each section a chance to be heard, something the kids enjoy a lot. I’ve had a lot of requests to learn some of the songs from High School Musical (quite appropriate) and I have one that both the marching band and the music class kids both like called “We’re all in this together”. Again, this is an upbeat and popular tune that kids can relate to.

Christmas songs, you either love them or hate them, but when that time of year rolls around, all of the music students want to play them. It would do you good to check out the more contemporary versions of the old carols. They have a bit more of a rock and roll vibe to them that kids really get into.

Last, but not least, is the favorite Party Rock Anthem, which is one that my drum section especially loves to play. It was after they had seen a video clip of the Ohio State University playing this one that I was inundated with demands to learn it. I actually had fun with this one too.

You have to keep in mind that each kid is an individual with their own tastes, and you can’t always please them all. But if you stick to stuff that is fairly popular, has a good beat to it, or is just a fun piece to play, you can’t really go wrong! This is why I try to rotate the songs I use and add in some of the latest music that I find the kids listening to. It keeps things fresh and you aren’t always going over the same songs. Even a favorite one can get boring if it gets overplayed. If you are stuck with a song that is a requirement, like part of the schools music curriculum, see if you can’t be bit creative with it, spruce it up a bit and make it something the kids will enjoy learning.

Favorite Music to Perform

I’ve been asked time and again what my favorite music is to perform. That’s a tough one because I love so many genres. It also depends on whether its for my class band or the marching band. I like music that is fun and upbeat for the most part. Just because its fun doesn’t mean its easy to play though. However, I find that the kids get more into those songs they enjoy regardless of how difficult they are. I like to find music that involves all pieces of the band too.

My all time favorite however, is Big Band Swing style music, like Glen Miller and Benny Goodman. Swing has a loud jazzy sound with strong rhythm. It began around the 1920’s in America but became a distinctive style of its own by the 1940’s.

My favorite song of all is “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman, a song that was used in the movie “Swing Kids”. In fact, I fell in love with the newer movie version and our marching band had a try at playing it too. They did rather well! Here is the song if you haven’t heard it before:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJG5xJ993rw)

Another favorite of both mine and the band is a version of “Carol of the Bells” by Tansiberian Orchestra. It’s a hard one but the kids are loving learning this one. We had to adjust a few things like swapping the electric guitar with an electronic keyboard for example. We are hoping to be able to play it for the Christmas Concert this year.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCabI3MdV9g)

For the required classical piece we had to have the kids learn, our favorite is Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, especially the canon fire towards the end. One year we were actually able to set up a few fake canons and add in some canon fire sound with the bigger drums. I think what makes this one so popular is that it starts out slowly and keeps working its way up to that rousing sound at the end.

I’ve noticed a new trend over the past couple of years in what my students ask to learn, which has been several pieces off of video games like World of Warcraft and Skyrim. For Skyrim it’s a tune called Dragonborn they requested the most. We even got together with our school’s vocal group on this one.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMfx3MT8ge0&list=PL71A09829F786ECB3)

For World of Warcraft they chose Darkmoon Faire, which is a jaunty little medieval sounding tune that lets all of the different sections of the band join in.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH-SpD4GEq8&list=PL7838EAB5C4B8EBC8&index=23)

Our list of favorites is always changing though as new movies, games and ideas come to us. We like to take old songs and give them a new twist from time to time too. It’s all about being creative for myself and my band kids, and our favorite songs to perform are the ones that have feeling to them. Its the passion behind the songs that make them fun to play in the end.

Internet Resources for Finding Musical Arrangements

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One of the challenges I have faced in regard to running both a marching band and a High School music class is finding musical arrangements. Of course, there are many books that you can buy but this can get expensive and you don’t really have a choice over what pieces are included in the books. This is where the Internet comes in.

There is an abundance of website out there that offer loads of free musical arrangements to download. It won’t cost you or your students any money, it can be accessed by anyone who can get online and there is such a wide variety of pieces to choose from. Here are a few of the best internet resources I have found for finding musical arrangements.

Musicnotes.com

This site is by far my favorite! Not only can you find classical and contemporary arrangements, you can also download them, print them out and there is an option to listen to each piece so that you can hear unfamiliar music to see if you are interested in learning it. The printing option is great and allows me to print off multiple copies to pass out to my students. You can also search for musical arrangements by specific instruments too.

ScoreExchange.com

Another favorite of mine, Score Exchange offers budding new artists the chance to upload music they have written, as well as download a variety of popular pieces. You can search by music genre, composer, and difficulty level, or browse through their alphabetical list. They also give the option to search for music by the event or purpose you need it for, for example Christmas music or pieces that are focused on learning music theory.

Free-Scores.com

Free Scores is another site that offers a wide array of musical arrangements that is grouped by instrument and category. They have both classical and contemporary music and many old pieces with a new twist from new arrangers. You can get a legal license to use these scores in the public domain for schools, bands and orchestras.

There is really no end to the musical arrangements you can find on these sites. It also benefits my students because they can find their own sheet music based on their particular preferences. I’ve learned that some kids will struggle with a particular arrangement I’ve chosen, but they do better with an arrangement in the same category that they are more drawn to play.

As I mentioned before, there are loads of sites that you can find on the internet for downloading sheet music. However, be careful because some of the sites will offer you a limited amount of choices and will ask you to pay a membership fee to access the rest of the library. Also, site that offer downloads to today’s popular songs don’t always follow copyright laws.

Cool Marching Formations

One of my passions is directing our school marching band. We get to play at the local sports events, parades, fundraisers and competitions. Marching bands are full of spirit and can really get the crowd, and the players going. It’s more than just the music we play though! Marching bands not only play but march in some amazing formations. If you have ever seen a university marching band play at a sports event, then you probably have seen them march to form intricate patters that spell out the school or state name, or an outline of the teams logo.

I’m a bit “two left feet” when it comes to some of these formations but I have a talented group with people who help choreograph these amazing feats. You can get a lot of ideas online along with some great videos that show you these marches as they are done, as well as teach them. Here are some of my favorites.

Ohio State University Marching Band

We’ve been hearing a lot about this group and their amazing marching formations that seem to come to life. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful this group is at what they do so I’ll share this video, which shows some of their work as well as how they manage these works of art.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyus8AnwSU0)

Michigan State Marching Band

Michigan University’s marching band has been around since 1896 and they have really evolved through the decades. I love this band’s use of PixMob technology integrated into their formations. What is PixMob you ask? It’s the use of wearable wireless LED lights (or devices), which transforms each wearer into a pixel that is part of a larger image or formation. Here is on of their halftime formations at work.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvyKx5OC6Nw)

University of Texas’ Longhorn Band

This group has been given the nickname of the “Show Band of the Southwest” and is known for having played at the 1961 inaugural parade for John F. Kennedy, as well as Super Bowl 8. The band itself is huge but that doesn’t stop them from pulling off some of the coolest formations I’ve seen. Here you can see them at the 2014 Marching Band competition

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkBRy8Rosi8)

So this is what our own marching band aspires to become and we work hard! When creating a formation you need to keep size in mind. Our group gets together and draws the formation shape they want to use while figuring out if there is enough space to fit every member, or enough members to fill the spaces. There are a few drill design computer programs that can help in figuring things out.

The harder part is the actual practice drill. Our first few attempts when learning a new drill can be quite comical. I mean lets face it, playing an instrument and paying attention to your steps and where you need to be moving all at once is no easy thing. I tend to have my band practice the marching and the music separately at first, then we combine the two and it does make it a bit easier.

I want to share this website called bandtek.com with you as well, because it came in handy for creating drill designs for the band. They have some free tools and formations to download, as well as some things you have to pay for but it really does come in handy.

Workout Excuse #1: No Time

Work. Work. Work. Isn’t that everyone’s mantra? It isn’t so bad, however, when you like your job. No matter which way you are leaning, a little respite is always in order. Then you can go back to the old grind. For some it is lazing on the beach or by the pool, for others it is a mini vacation to the mountains or lakeshore. For me, a little extra time in the gym is just what I need to unwind, tone up, and relax.

The problem is always finding available time. Days fly by and there are all those obligations. There is teaching, directing the band, errands, some social life, a visit to the dentist, and a bit of food preparation. It is mighty handy if you have a home gym and can avoid the travel. I have yet to indulge.

My ideal gym would be in the immediate vicinity, maybe in the basement or the spare room where I could spread out. I would have a treadmill first and foremost. Space not being a problem, I would add one of those total home gym combo machines that has everything built into one unit like those by Powerline or Bowflex. There are lots on the market so you can customize as you like. It is often a matter of budget.

I can see everything in my mind: the weight plates, the chess press station, the leg extension bar, and all the assorted pulleys. It would be a beauty. My problem is motivation. I don’t have the time to go check models out and see what suits my needs. I don’t even know what my needs are. I don’t have a fitness program: just no time.

I would like someone to do all the preliminaries and have the selected equipment delivered. Then they would have a timeline of fitness exercises and goals that would keep me in the peak of health. They could drop in now and then to supervise and make sure I am performing my curls just right. I could use a few tips and tricks. Think of the time I would save having everything directed and controlled.

I know you are thinking, “excuses, excuses.” You will never get started. But I beg to differ. Just having these thoughts in my head is a good beginning. How does anyone get motivated to use up a big chunk of your early morning or evening after dinner, not to mention weekends? How do people stick with something that is physically demanding? Does it take away mentally from other aspects of life?

Medical experts say no way. They know of what they speak. Exercise energizes you and helps you accomplish so much more. So if you are not working out, you are not productive. Plus there is the issue of longevity. You don’t have to have fancy gym equipment either. Lifting a few weights, running, power walking, and swimming, for example, can fill the bill. I think that if I want to maximize the benefits, I should go all out. I need to do circuit training using all the requisite gear. I will fine tune my body like a musical instrument. If you don’t play it, it won’t have a purpose.

What NOT to do with a Pressure Washer

Mr. Mishaps is my middle name. Believe it! Not when I am teaching or directing the band. There I have a solid reputation. Not when I am in the midst of any activity at school. I am a trusted employee. I am so designated at home doing certain chores that test my mettle. One such is using a pressure washer.

In spite of issues that arise, I wash the patio or garage floor if needed. I touch up the driveway and sidewalks. I address accumulated grime on walls, fences, the shed, and anywhere dirt shows its ugly face. But…I have been known to have my troubles.

For one thing, I bought a deluxe model that is heavier than I expected. Oh, my aching back. Plus, it has an extra-long hose in which I can get easily entangled. On top of that, my favorite nozzle is a hell of a spray if you don’t control it, making you thoroughly drenched right out of the box.

Playing even a tuba was never this hard. In spite of the testimonials of the thing that promised it was user friendly, it is a bit of a challenge. Sure, I read the manual and did a test run, but it didn’t help when it came down to the matters at hand. After a perpetual battle with the brawny monster, I finally get results.

So the things NOT to do with a pressure washer are as follows:

  • Do not ignore the instructions
  • Do not use the machine when you are tired
  • Do not expect people to help you
  • Do not give up and call a professional
  • Do not buy the biggest one in the store
  • Do not think you know how to fix a gas-powered engine
  • Do not use the wrong kind of detergent or cleaner
  • Do not leave the hose unwound for someone to trip over it
  • Do not expect hot water with all models
  • Do not get a battery-powered version if you neglect to change or recharge them
  • Do not be in a hurry. It will encourage mishaps.

On the other hand, I have some suggestions from the peanut gallery.

  • Do buy a good brand such as Karcher, Campbell Hausfeld, or Cam Spray
  • Do think about electric versus gas power. It makes a difference
  • Do learn what PSI and GPM mean
  • Do consider portable or handheld for smaller jobs
  • Do consider stationary or wall mount
  • Do expect durable inlet and discharge tubes
  • Do opt for a stop system that halts the motor and pump when the spray trigger is released
  • Do your homework always before making a final decision

If you are concerned about water as a resource, the best pressure washers use less gallons per minute than a hose. Just be sure you are getting all the necessary regular features such as an on-board detergent tank, at least a 30 foot power cord, a built-in active hose reel, and sturdy wheels. Make sure your machine can take wear and tear and require little maintenance. Above all, buy one that minimizes problems if you are a Mr. Mishap like me.

Bonfire Night!

Bonfire night at school is a big event before the homecoming game. Everyone within a radius of several miles looks forward to it. It blazes with the glory of our institution like a giant outdoor fireplace that burns with a special warmth. It is all about a communal spirit that blossoms on a cool fall night. Everyone turns out: the students and the regional fans.

Building a bonfire is quite an enterprise and a bit harder than stacking wood in a wood stove at home and lighting it in seconds. It takes a specific skill in order to be safe and protect those around it. If you want a fun event, you do not want any accidents. If you prepare in advance, things will go smoothly and you can spent your time cheering the team.

First and foremost a bonfire is big. Think campfire a thousand fold. There is nothing like one at a pep rally to get the local spirit going. You do have to abide by government and local regulations for such things and get a permit. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to consult with the fire department.

You pick a spot that is centrally located but not unduly close to any buildings or vegetation. An asphalt area with an earth bed is best. You then bring in bags of gathered dry leaves, twigs, and wood sticks of any size. Since you need a lot, it is best to do this job on a previous day. Leaves and twigs burn super fast and the wood lasts a bit longer.

If there is an earth bed for the bonfire, you don’t have to dig a pit. In any case, the area should be as big as the fire you want to create. Bonfires vary and they are not all towering infernos. The earth area or pit will then be surrounded with large stones or bricks to contain the fire within the prescribed area. You then take your fuel wood and arrange it in a teepee formation or a pyramid shape. You then ignite it when all safety measures have been taken.

The leaves at the bottom of the pit will burn first and spread upward. Now you and the town can enjoy the blaze and gather together to support the team. There no doubt will be some cheers and school songs to boot. When the evening is over, a team of volunteers should be in charge of dousing the fire to make sure it is 100% out. It might burn down on its own to a few lonely embers or you can dump water on it from a nearby hose or a bucket brigade. You then should throw sand on top and stomp on it to extinguish it completely. By the time people are leaving for their cars, it should be cool to the touch.

There is nothing as much fun in the fall as bonfire night, even Halloween which is a close second and in some parts of the country, this holiday merits its own event.

My Nemesis

I have my turf at school. Others have theirs, and often never the twain shall meet. But one time it did, with some interesting consequences. A music teacher and the glee club coach have a lot in common. A music teacher and the home ec variety do not. What’s more, in that individual, I met my “nemesis.”

Nemesis comes from Greek mythology. (See, I know more than stuff about bands.) She was the spirit of divine retribution, a concept that was rampant in those ancient days. Now it has toned down to mean an opponent or rival; and in my case, it was of the female kind. It was kind of like a feud between a sewing machine and a guitar amp for the prize of best electric device, or stitching versus drumming as the best manual skill.

It all happened one sunny spring day when things were otherwise quiet around the campus. The band was deep in practice, and I imagine that several sewing machines were whirring away on the other side of the school. A student office worker came into my room with a note from the principal. There was to be a special day in the coming week in which certain subjects would be “combined” to show interdisciplinary teaching. I was to be slotted in with Miss Home Arts.

I was not thrilled, but not entirely displeased. We all were in the same boat with this cockamamie idea. The day drew near. Having discussed some lesson plans with the happy homemaker teacher, we decided to discuss equipment in our fields. I dutifully started to pull out some items.

On the day of the teaching exchange, she and I grouped ourselves and our students the larger of the classrooms: mine. I had drum set components, reeds, an electrical keyboard, a few instruments in the brass category, and other odds and ends. She brought in a brand new sewing machine, a knitting machine, a set of crochet hooks, and assorted scissors. We had the tools of our trades lined up.

This one does this… and this one does that. It went on for almost an hour. You could feel the tone in her voice, “mine is better. Everyone should learn to sew. It is more practical than music.” Yikes. Were we competing for status in the students’ eyes? She went on, “you can mend your clothes, save money making new ones, help out a friend….” What can a tuba do?

Music is the staff of life, everyone knows that, so I was a bit appalled. I was also at a loss for words. She could see the fear in my eyes. Would she convert any young minds? The stares were not blank, however, and the kids were listening intently.

“Music makes the world go round,” I spewed platitudes. It can’t fix a ripped seam, but it can fix a broken heart, I explained. It doesn’t have to be practical, but rather useful in its unique way. At the end of my mini tirade, the home ec gal gave me a wry smile. “Yes, of course,” she cooed. “You are so right. This has been a good game, hasn’t it?” So, it had been a ruse all along! She paused for a moment to think, and added a final thought before the bell rung. “Come in and use our sewing machines anytime. Next year, let’s make the new band uniforms.”

Maybe I oughtta hire someone…

I like to do things myself. I consider myself a practical man with good hands. They can do more than direct a band or play an instrument. They can repair things around the house – minor things mostly – and help save money. We all have budgets and they tend to be a little short on maintenance. No one expects much to happen to basic appliances and fixtures.

I had been experiencing a leaky faucet for some time, but was just too busy to address the problem what with band practice and performance during the peak season. It seemed to be getting worse, however, and was practically shouting “I need to stop!.” I contemplated the matter and decided to change the washer. Simple job.

That didn’t work oddly enough. Not only did it still leak, but it started to spray, sometimes getting me right in the face as I bent over the sink to brush my teeth. It was like announcing a challenge that I had to answer. I looked up faucet repair on line but was left in the dark. I wasn’t sure the best approach at all.

I could buy a new faucet and really go hog wild on a state-of-the-art fixture. They cost a pretty penny if you want a really nice finish. I was willing to go this route, but doubted by ability to install it. So I decided one thing at a time. I went to the local Home Depot and cased the faucet section carefully. With the help of a kind salesman, I select the best kitchen faucet (within my budget) that would do the job nicely. It was leakproof, so he promised.

He also offered ways to install the thing and pointed me in the direction of plumbing tools. I trotted over on my own and also cased the section carefully. There were ratchets and wrenches and pliers and all kinds of nuts and bolts. I reminded myself what I had noticed long ago: my handyman skills were rather limited. Maybe it was time to hire some help.

Add at least $50 on to bathroom expenses for that and you have a couple hundred dollars committed. I knew that if I tried to install it myself, it would be worse and the plumber would need an extra hour. I succumbed to the temptation of using experienced labor and asked the salesman for a referral.

Let this be a lesson to anyone with a leaky faucet, which is symbolic here for any home repairs. You cannot always do it yourself. Plumbing seems easier than wiring, for example, but it isn’t. It has to be done precisely according to prescribed methods. These methods are not known to the vast majority of people like me who have other chores on their hands.

By the way, I do love my splashless, water saving, energy conservation, shiny new faucet. It’s a beauty for sure. It has a nice long warranty so I won’t need that plumber any time soon unless the kitchen faucet goes awry.

How to Approach Local Music Stores for Equipment

storeshot

You can’t teach music or have a band without instruments, that just goes without saying. Instruments can be expensive though and some school budgets and marching band groups don’t always have the funds to cover what is needed. This is why we run fundraisers for the marching band and High School music program. Sometimes people will donate old instruments that can be polished up and put into use as well.

Another option that we tend to forget is approaching music stores for the equipment that we need. A lot of local music shops here run back to school sales for some of the basics like guitar strings and basic instruments that are cheaper. We have one shop near the High School who is always on the lookout for instruments that can be donated to the school or the marching band.

If you have a local music store or two it may be worth it to pay them a visit and see if thy can offer you a deal for the school. Many will be keen on offering discounts on instruments and accessories when you buy them in bulk and you can save a lot that way.

A lot of people will sell their old instruments to music shops as well, and you may be able to get a shop to donate one or two of these, or at least give you a good price break. In some cases you can also find shops that will rent out equipment as and when you need it too. I’ve seen everything from amps to drum kits being rented through music shops.

You can also try talking to companies that manufacture instruments. You won’t get them for free but you may be able to get a discount if you offer to display the company logo on instruments or some other form of advertising, such as banners that show a company or shop as a sponsor. It’s free advertising for them and cheaper instruments for the kids.

I’ve found that many of the local shops are proud of their town’s marching bands and will gladly help out where they can. When you approach a music shop for some help, explain to them what is needed and see if they can offer discounts, rentals, or donated instruments. It’s always best to meet them face to face and I have found that bringing one or two of the music or marching band kids along can help persuade them to work with you.

If you’re looking for instruments and accessories for your school, make sure you know what your budget is and what you can work with. Having a good inventory list is a great help in letting you see what is needed and where. Some music shops will also let you put up a flier or to in their windows asking for donations or help for the local High School music program.

Shops also tend to know when other bands, music groups or other shops are downsizing or closing up. It means they have a chance to snag some equipment at a discount and they can let you know about these opportunities too. It may take a bit of time and work but it can be well worth it in the end. Be creative and if one shop turns you down, don’t fret!