With a band our size (16 in high school band, 25 in middle school band, and 19 in beginning band) our members have heavy loads of responsibility laid upon them. With a community like ours (nearly 90% poverty rate) most of our children already bear heavy loads at home as well. Despite all of this, in fact, because of all of this, these children have an inspiring sense of community and dedication.
For a lot of our band members, school is the only safe and stable place for them, and they take that to heart, turning our band into a family that works together and succeeds together.
Even when some students do not receive regular meals or sleep in an actual bed, they still unite like a family to create music one couldn't create alone. We even had a student diligently make sure he showed up to a Christmas parade right after he attended court that day because of a custody battle between relatives.
These kids inspire me every day, showing everyone around them that difficult situations do not need to be excuses, but can be motivational to come together and achieve.
As a small band, we lack many of the expensive percussion instruments that are necessary to perform a majority of concert band literature. Our budget is usually used to buy instruments for beginning band students due to our growing size, and most of them are unable to afford instruments themselves.
Many percussionists have shown stellar improvement and dedication, but I cannot reward them with interesting pieces that feature them because we cannot afford the instruments these pieces require.
Gong is very commonly found in these pieces, and our lack of one severely limits our options. Many times percussionists have requested to play certain pieces, but I have to tell them that we do not have the equipment for it. These kids deserve to play exciting and challenging music, and just this single instrument would open up a drastically wider selection.
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