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School B&O Buying Habits 2009

Mike Lawson • Archives • November 6, 2009

For music educators, procuring band and orchestra instruments for their students can be challenging. When faced with budget restrictions, a tough economy or finding the right musical instrument dealer who will work well with them and their students, it can be a time-consuming mission.

If a dealer and a school develop a good working relationship, both parties can benefit: For the dealer, a school can become a consistent, frequent customer; for a school or music teacher, the dynamic of trust and dependability in such an association is often important. To find out more about musical instrument buying patterns when it comes to student band and orchestra instruments, SBO sent out a survey to music educators across the country. We found out, not surprisingly, that behind every decision is a budget, whether it is a constraining one or not. For most schools, that’s the bottom line.

For the current school year, did you (or are you planning to) purchase more, less, or the same dollar amount of musical instruments as last year?

For the current school year, did you (or are you planning to) purchase more, less, or the same dollar amount of musical instruments as last year?

“I can’t get stuff every year, and I purchased a new bass drum and stand last year. I also did a few more repairs and am purchasing new mutes and a tuner. We’ve had to cut back quite a bit.”

Jack Ronald Wise
Algonquin Middle School
Algonquin, Ill.

“We had to use our fundraiser to help start a new guitar course. The cost is being shared by band, orchestra, and chorus. If I’m lucky, I’ll get one major instrument purchase per school year.”

John Cznadel
Saunders Middle School
Manassas, Va.

“Funding has been cut back drastically in many California schools. We are just very thankful that we are able to continue our high school band program.”

George Edwin Smith
Gustine High School
Gustine, Calif.

What types of instruments are you purchasing this year?

What types of instruments are you purchasing this year?

“We provide nearly all instruments at the elementary level and only very expensive, needed, or auxiliary instruments after fifth grade.”

Lindsay Williams
Owego High School
Owego, N. Y.

Which factors are most important when selecting a music store to work with?

Which factors are most important when selecting a music store to work with?

“Not that cost isn’t important, but if you want good repairs and reliable service, the cost sometimes comes later in the priorities.”

David Hiett
Regina Dominican High School
Wilmette, Ill.

When do you plan your budget?

When do you plan your budget?

“My budget is virtually non-existent even though I am supposed to have a budget.”

Daryl Coffin
Central Lee Schools
Donnellson, Iowa

When do you make the bulk of your instrument purchases?

When do you make the bulk of your instrument purchases?

“We were allowed to spend zero dollars last year, and I expect we will spend zero dollars this year.”

Michael G. Melnick
Croswell-Lexington Middle School
Croswell, Mich.

What is the ratio of school-owned instruments to student-owned instruments in your program?

What is the ratio of school-owned instruments to student-owned instruments in your program?

“The only school-owned instruments in my program are color instruments: bass clarinets; tenor saxophones; baritone saxophones; French horns; flugelhorns; euphoniums; tubas/sousaphones; and percussion.”

Richard Stichler
Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe High School
Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga.

Additional thoughts on buying musical instruments?

“In the current economy, it is getting more and more difficult to purchase new instruments. Our elementary band director started a used instrument program last year which has greatly benefitted our program. Many families have donated older instruments to the elementary band program, and we have been able to have those instruments repaired or even reconditioned/overhauled. Through some fundraising efforts and a couple of benefit concerts, we have been able to raise money to purchase used instruments through sources such as eBay. This has been a very viable option, especially for students who are economically disadvantaged and might not be able to afford to rent or purchase an instrument.”

Rick Worley
Central York Middle School
York, Penn.

“I see the number of students who own (or are renting to own) their instruments dropping. There has been a big increase in the number of students who need to rent an instrument from the school. Some of them cannot even pay the $40 per year school rental cost, and so we try to find sponsors for those students. There has also been an increase in people buying cheap (under $200 new) instruments on the Internet. Most of these have arrived in non-playing condition and have to be repaired (if they can be repaired), and the savings in buying on the cheap is lost.”

John Mueller
Incline Middle School
Incline Village, Nev.

“The economy has hit us hard with the Chrysler headquarters a stones throw north of us. I was able to purchase a soprano sax last year with funds from a gig we did for Chrysler. That is the only way I got capital.”

Daniel T. Burdette
Avondale High School
Auburn Hills, Mich.

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