Survey Says…

Mike Lawson • Archives • November 6, 2009

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SBO’s survey on band and orchestra buying habits for 2009 provided some interesting insight into the methods and statistics (albeit unscientific) of music programs during the past year, as well as some estimates on next year’s purchases. One of the extraordinary results was that 63 percent of the directors surveyed stated that they were planning to purchase the same amount or more than last year. This seems counterintuitive, especially in the midst of the recent economic turmoil, which includes slashed state and local budgets and high unemployment. It does, however, offer some hope that the school music programs around the country are faring better than previously thought.

Anecdotally, we’ve heard about some programs where the administration, parents, and students absolutely will not allow their music programs to be taken away from them, and they are fighting tooth and nail to maintain its funding and inclusion in the school’s curriculum. A recent example of this was a middle school program in Florence, Oregon where, according to the Siuslaw News (Oct. 21 edition), the district announced “it would cut 26 staff positions and multiple programs and sports from the 2009-10 budget” and the band director assumed he would be part of the cuts. Luckily, a “vote on the district’s local option levy” passed and the program was saved. The community then pulled together and raised money to supply instruments and equipment to the program, with the express goal of providing young students with less expensive school rental instruments.

Others have fared far worse, even with the portion of the economic stimulus that was supposed to help education programs. In Jackson, Mississippi, an example of a string program that had been established for over 42 years (according to the, Oct. 21 edition), has left approximately 450 students with no place to study their violins within the public school system. This appears to have stemmed from a split vote on the school board where, despite the strong efforts of the minority, the music program lost out to other supposedly more critical expenses.

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