The East Lincoln Middle School Band has enthusiasm, passion and a â€œsuperiorâ€ rating, but itâ€™s a few things â€“ new instruments and the money to buy them.
â€œRight now weâ€™re in a situation where weâ€™re continuously fund raising and trying to replace old instruments,â€ said Kimberly Wise, the bandâ€™s director.
An average instrument in the band is 20 years old and some of the bandâ€™s instruments are on loan from a Charlotte school.
This problem is not specific to East Lincoln Middle School. Bands throughout the area struggle to afford instruments that generally run $1,000 a piece.
The East Lincoln Middle School band raises around $3,000 a year through a fall cookie dough sale and spring chocolate sale. That money helps update instruments, but the process is slow.
Playing on an instrument created in the â€™80s doesnâ€™t bother all the bandâ€™s students.
â€œIt still plays really good as long as you practice it,â€ said John Workman, an eighth grade student.
Whatâ€™s more important is the music and the chance to bond with other students. Middle school bands also provide a chance to work towards the future.
â€œIâ€™m trying to get ready for high school marching band next year,â€ said Workman.
While Wise is involved in East Lincoln High Schoolâ€™s band, she also worries that high school bands receive more glory and more funds than middle school bands.
â€œIt just seems that middle school always gets overlooked,â€ she said. â€œWeâ€™re not out in public, but this is where it all starts.â€
She believes that students involved in the band have fewer behavioral problems and higher grades.
â€œWe donâ€™t get the smart kids,â€ she said. â€œWe raise them that way.â€
One of her students, Josh Smith, is a perfect example of how band can calm a child down. Since joining, Joshâ€™s behavior has taken a turn for the better.
â€œYou better believe itâ€™s changed,â€ he said.
Heâ€™s thrown fewer tantrums and gone on less trips to the principalâ€™s office.
â€œMusicâ€™s a wonderful thing to me,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s like a dream to me.â€
The feeling of inclusion the band offers may last him through high school.
Lee Withers, a senior, began playing music in middle school and is now a teacher cadet for the East Lincoln Middle School Band.
â€œIt helped my self-esteem a lot because I had something I was good at,â€ he said.
Like his teachers, Withers believes the band could use some new instruments.
â€œItâ€™s important,â€ he said. â€œYou canâ€™t achieve something with an instrument that wonâ€™t play.â€
Aaron Mosteller, a band student, plays a tuba that the middle school received on loan from a Charlotte high school.
Chris Dean / LTN Photoby Sarah Grano