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Middle school band needs tune up

The East Lincoln Middle School Band has enthusiasm, passion and a “superior” rating, but it’s a few things – new instruments and the money to buy them.
“Right now we’re in a situation where we’re continuously fund raising and trying to replace old instruments,” said Kimberly Wise, the band’s director.
An average instrument in the band is 20 years old and some of the band’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 ’80s doesn’t bother all the band’s students.
“It still plays really good as long as you practice it,” said John Workman, an eighth grade student.
What’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.
“I’m trying to get ready for high school marching band next year,” said Workman.
While Wise is involved in East Lincoln High School’s band, she also worries that high school bands receive more glory and more funds than middle school bands.
“It just seems that middle school always gets overlooked,” she said. “We’re not out in public, but this is where it all starts.”
She believes that students involved in the band have fewer behavioral problems and higher grades.
“We don’t get the smart kids,” she said. “We raise them that way.”
One of her students, Josh Smith, is a perfect example of how band can calm a child down. Since joining, Josh’s behavior has taken a turn for the better.
“You better believe it’s changed,” he said.
He’s thrown fewer tantrums and gone on less trips to the principal’s office.
“Music’s a wonderful thing to me,” he said. “It’s like a dream to me.”
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.
“It helped my self-esteem a lot because I had something I was good at,” he said.
Like his teachers, Withers believes the band could use some new instruments.
“It’s important,” he said. “You can’t achieve something with an instrument that won’t play.”

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

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