Band strong thanks to donationsPublished 9:15am Wednesday, August 26, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Students still have a few precious days of summer left before finding themselves back in the classroom for another year of school but for some, the start of the school year will now be one with a sweeter sound.
A group of students will have the chance to get their start in band this year, thanks to several instrument donations made to the Niles High School/Ring Lardner bands.
Those instruments will go to sixth grade students at Oak Manor Sixth Grade Center.
Director of bands for Niles High School, Steve Gruver said the donations come as part of the special program he launched with Ring Lardner’s Steven Bizoe, taking donated instruments and providing them to those students in need, who otherwise might not be able to afford the necessary costs to join the band.
“What this will ultimately do, they (the instruments) will allow us, with the closing of Tyler Refrigeration and layoffs of different companies we had about 20 kids who said they couldn’t be in band. Now those kids are going to be able to be in band.”
Around 25 instruments have been collected for those students, including flutes, saxophones, clarinets and trumpets.
Bizoe and Gruver began seeking instrument donations back in May, close to the end of the year. Students who are able to benefit from the donations are able to use the instruments during the year for free, cutting on rental costs.
Students and parents are still responsible for providing their own additional necessities such as books, polishing cloths, reeds, valve oil etc.
Rented instruments can run a range of between $30 and $70 per month for parents.
The goal is to build running stock, as Bizoe mentioned back in May and Gruver reiterated on Tuesday.
“It will allow the kids to get started on an instrument,” Gruver said.
And the program will hopefully allow the Niles Community Schools band program to build a “safety backup” of instruments for use.
“Kids, they get a lot out of band,” Bizoe said when he announced the program in May. “It’s not just reading, it’s not just music. It’s about leadership, working together as a group and motivation.”
This year, Gruver said, the beginning band of sixth grade students will weigh in just around 100 beginners, with Ring Lardner’s band at approximately 140 strong and the high school band, he added is “growing” at 122 members.
Gruver also said that superintendent Doug Law informed him that the instruments would be repaired and ready for performance before the start of school – so students won’t have to worry about getting instruments in need of maintenance.
The ability to provide so many instruments to eager sixth grade students is an important one, Gruver said. Because there is no other opportunity for kids to get started in band other than at the sixth grade level, “our only opportunity to recruit new band members is in the sixth grade.
“That is our golden opportunity,” he said.
Donators can take advantage of a tax-deductible donation of their used instruments to the school and Gruver said that donations continue to be welcome throughout the year and after.
Those interested can stop by Niles High School or Ring Lardner Middle School to make their donations.