Monday, October 16, 2017
We all plan on making sure that our students do what they should to maintain their instruments correctly. However, it became an even bigger priority when I began working in a Title One band program that provides students with all instruments. With 78% of our families living on less than $32,000 a year, the band program was dying before the district made the commitment to insure that our students were not prevented from being band members by the cost.
This meant that repair bills could sky rocket out of control without a plan in place to insure that students cared for their instruments. In talking to an instrument repair person who I have worked with for years, he mentioned something called "Maintenance Monday." As he explained the concept, I was convinced.
Every Monday we start class with 5 minutes for students to do maintenance on their instruments. We provide each student with their supplies at the beginning of the year to insure that they are using the products that we recommend on our instruments and to insure that they have care products. We then explain the cost of instruments, what and why they will be doing instrument care, and show them pictures of typical damage that happens to instruments and what repair costs are.
Woodwinds are asked to do the following as applicable to their instrument:
- give the instrument an extra swabbing
- check the head joint cork
- check their reeds to insure that they're still in good shape and replace anything deemed past using
- clean out their bocal
- grease corks as needed
- check screws on rods and clarinet thumb rests to insure that they're not backing out
- check their mouthpiece to see if it needs a cleaning
- finally to wipe down the body and key work of the instrument to remove dust, dirt, and fingerprints
Brass are asked to do the following as applicable to their instrument:
- Oil their valves as needed
- grease tuning slides as necessary
- trombone slides are checked to insure that they don't need slide cream and are still working as they should
- check that their mouthpiece doesn't need to be cleaned
- wipe down the body, valve casings, and slides to remove dust, dirt, and fingerprints
While students are doing this, directors circulate through the group and check valves, reeds, trombone slides, and tuning slides to insure that the instrument is still in good condition and being cared for correctly.
While doing this does require an upfront commitment of time and the money for supplies it has saved us large amounts of money in repair bills over the longer term. Our repair money has been able to go to getting additional instruments in our collection up and running rather than on repairs that are from lack of maintenance.
Even better, it helps students to understand how much their instrument is worth, how to be responsible for their instrument care and cognizant of the costs of instrument repair. Students remind us to do "Maintenance Monday" if we neglect it and we lose less class time to instruments that are not working correctly. That makes it a win whether you're supplying all instruments or students are providing their own!
|Danika White graduated from Central Methodist University with a Bachelor of Music in Education and The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville with a Master of Music in Flute Performance. Ms. White taught in Missouri for 19 years before moving to Texas and accepting an Associate Director of Bands position at Earl Warren High School, Northside ISD, in San Antonio, TX where she taught for three years before accepting a Head Director position at Rayburn Middle School, also in Northside ISD. Ms. White is a member of Phi Beta Mu, Texas Music Educators Association, and Texas Band Masters Association.|