CHS band is growing, needs instruments

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By Gary Phillips

There’s good news, and there’s not so good news. The good news is the Central High School band is expected to be larger than it has been in years, according to newly appointed director Geoffrey Mack. The bad news? The school doesn’t have enough instruments to supply each student in the 2012-2013 school year.
“We have almost 20 students coming into Central and none of them will have instruments,” he said. “The marching band is going to double in size, We’ll have about 60 on the field next year.”
Mack is a 1994 CHS graduate and has been band director at New Heights Middle School for three years. He said the instruments at New Heights must stay there.
“I don’t even know at this point what Central has, but in order for us to have 60 in the band, we’re going to have to come up with about 40 instruments,” he said.
Mack is asking for used instruments in any condition. Anyone who has an instrument they or their child no longer needs is encouraged to donate it to the CHS band program.
“Being able to afford an instrument is really not feasible for so many families around here. A new, quality instrument is anywhere from $700 to $1,200,” he said. “Next year we’re hoping to have three Sousaphones. There’s one at the school now, and Sousaphones cost around $8,000.”
Mack said he has a source who can repair instruments, if needed, and if an instrument is beyond repair, credit will be given for the equipment if it can be used for parts.
“Even if it’s horrible, and I’ve sent him some pretty bad stuff, he’s credited me $20 for the repair of another instrument down the road,” Mack said. “That works well, and we can determine if we’re going to fix something up, so we’ll take anything.”
Mack said monetary donations are always needed as well and the CHS Band Boosters raise funds by operating the concession stand at the football games.
“Each kid is responsible for $150. If a parent works at the concession stand, that’s $15 off the fee for every night they work. We’re the only band in the school district that has concessions at football games,” he said.
Mack said the band needs brass and woodwind instruments and marching-style drums, but any instrument can be converted into funds to buy or repair equipment they need.
“If we got a really nice guitar or something else, maybe that’s something we could raffle off and make good use of it that way,” he said. “We’ll accept anything.”
Mack confirmed that music classes help students excel in other subjects.
“Across the board, kids who are in band have higher SAT scores and ACT scores. Music organizes your brain. It’s called anticipatory thinking and that means we know what’s happening next. It’s that ability that musicians solely possess and can develop that helps with everything else,” he said. “It helps with math and every other subject. Band kids typically have higher grades, on average. I think that’s because they’re a part of something. That’s what I like about band. Everyone is involved. Music requires perfection. You have to have it right every time and you get one performance and you have to get it right on that performance, because everyone knows when you mess up, and that’s different from a math test or anything else. Everyone in the room knows when you mess up.”