Do you have any extra reeds? Do you have an extra mouthpiece? Can you suggest a better mouthpiece for my instrument? These are three questions that I hear often as a band director.
I have approximately 115 students in my high school band and 20 students in my high school jazz band.
My students start off the school year in marching band and transition to concert band sometime in the Fall. Jazz band is an auditioned extra-curricular ensemble. Students in the music department are dedicated, for they have all been playing their instrument(s) since 4th or 5th grade.
My high school band has a diverse socio-economic population. A very small handful of students can afford the best instruments, mouthpieces and reeds; the majority can not. Woodwind players must have a constant supply of reeds. Sometimes they break, chip, or warp. My students take care of their belongings well, but reeds do need to be replaced on a regular basis. And, because reeds are organic, not every reed from a box is good; some reeds are better than others.
The mouthpieces I have chosen for this project are "step-up" mouthpieces appropriate for advancing concert and jazz band musicians.
My Donors Choose project has two parts to it:
One - to supply reeds to students who just can not afford them. In the past I have tried buying a large box of reeds and having students reimburse me. What I have found is that some students don't always have the money for one and they are playing on broken or warped reeds.
Two - to supply advanced mouthpieces to students. All entry level musical instruments come with a "stock" mouthpiece. Students often outgrow these mouthpieces and need to find a more appropriate choice. Entry level, or stock mouthpieces are relatively inexpensive. Step-up mouthpieces are not, and are often too expensive for students. If I can supply these mouthpieces to students, they will find improvement in tone, articulation and range. I have never had the money in my school budget to supply advanced mouthpieces for students. If I have these mouthpieces on hand, I can also have the students that CAN afford them, try them out before they purchase.
A step-up mouthpiece makes a huge difference to the tone, articulation and range of a musician.
When students have these mouthpieces on their instruments, they have the tools to become better musicians. This will improve the musical quality of the individual, and will improve the musicianship of my band. I will finally have the reeds and mouthpieces that my students need at the high school level!
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