Band students eye community help

Kimberly Jordan • Updated Aug 7, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Winfree Bryant Middle School is looking for a little help from some friends to keep the music going in its band program.

According to second-year band director and teacher Ben Channell, this year’s program is “humongous.”

“We have about 140 kids in the program between the three grades [sixth through eighth],” he said.

Channell also said what happens in his program on the middle school level makes for great things for the high school band.

“The potential for numbers are fantastic for our high school,” Channell said. But with those numbers comes the need for more supplies. He said currently the program has about 40 music stands, which is enough to accommodate one of his classes but not the full band when assembled.

“When I put that 70-piece band on stage, I don’t have enough stands for everyone to read music on.”

There is also the problem of a lack of instruments.

“It’s not because the school system didn’t think about it. The program wasn’t big enough to need it yet, when we shifted over here. In two years it’s just exploded. We have 70 sixth graders this year,” Channell said

The school has about 25 instruments total. He said some students own an instrument and some will rent, “but there are instruments that they won’t let you rent, so we have to supply those for our kids.”

He pointed to percussion instruments and tubas as some of the items that cannot be rented.

In that vein, the program is hoping to find sponsors to help them buy more supplies. Or, anyone with instruments to donate will also be appreciated.

“If someone has old instruments, even if they are kind of in good shape, everything and anything helps,” said Channell. “What instruments I do have, they’re old, and we spend most of our money from our fundraisers on repairs.”

“I just can’t tell you what a great job he’s done promoting the program, principal Becky Kegley said. “You want kids to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It serves so many purposes.”

Kegley said she is hopeful the community will step forward to help the students out.

“We’re hoping for some manna from heaven,” she said. “We’re in a time when a lot of schools and a lot of systems are cutting their music programs. I’m so thankful for our kids that that’s not happening. We’re one of the lucky ones that our system has decided to keep the music and keep those teachers in place.”

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