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Bands are Back

Bands are back: Influx of students creates instrument shortage

Summerville Elementary School students practice “Jingle Bells,” during music class at the school on Friday. Jesse Jones / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.

Band enrollment has shot up at Sonora and Summerville elementary schools under a new band teacher, but the schools’ supply of instruments can’t keep up.

Both school bands number about 90 students this year. That’s 10 times more than last year’s ending enrollment at Summerville and three times the number last enrolled in band at Sonora.

Almost every student in sixth through eighth grade at the smaller Summerville school is in the band now, according to new music teacher Brittany Martinez. Martinez, who started this year, splits her days between the schools, alternating three days at one site and two at the other. It is her first year as a credentialed school teacher, but she’s been a private teacher for 11 years in the Los Angeles area. She has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Azusa Pacific University and has almost completed her master’s. She did a demonstration, playing all of the band instruments, at the beginning of the school year at each campus which really got the kids excited.

“We had a giant explosion,” she said of band enrollment. “They’ve been loving it and they’re doing great.” One downside, however, is the schools don’t have enough loaner instruments for all the students who need one. About 40 of the Summerville students are sharing instruments. That means less practice on their preferred instruments.  “It makes it really hard for them when they want to play and their instrument is out. They have to play another one,” Martinez said. In particularly short supply are woodwind instruments, like flutes, clarinets and saxophones. Summerville Elementary is undergoing financial cutbacks because of dropping school enrollment. Martinez said she hopes members of the community who have unwanted instruments would be willing to donate them. Instruments can be delivered to the Summerville Elementary School office at 18451 Carter St., Tuolumne. About 10 instruments are needed at Sonora Elementary, 830 Greenley Road. Both of the bands’ first public performances are slated for December.