Wasilla High's band competes for $100,000 in new instruments
Wasilla High School’s band wants your vote to help improve their run-down collection of instruments.
The band is one of 72 from across the country competing in the Manilow Music Project’s online competition for $100,000 in new instruments.
Senior Aurora Duskin says many of their percussion instruments are well past their prime. One of the bass drums has chunks missing from the rims; another snare is held together by a hair tie.
“Without the hair tie, this latch would fall down which turns the snare off during a song,” Duskin says.
Another drum head is pockmarked from decades of use.
“It’s all worn from people jabbing it with their sticks and that really alters the sound,” she explains.
This is band teacher Jackie Johnson’s first year at the school. She arrived to find the students were masters at the classics because those were all they’d had.
“The most recent music file we had was 1997. None of these kids were born when this music was purchased,” Johnson says.
She also found a long list of problems that included stands that are broken and cases that are falling apart.
“This French horn is held together with tape. We have a lot of instruments held together with tape,” Johnson says.
The school wants to start a marching band, but they don’t have the mobile equipment, like a sousaphone or marching baritones.
Johnson also brought back the school's drum line, but had to get creative because there isn't enough traditional equipment to go around. Students use drum heads on top of stools. The shop class even had to make two additional stools to fill out the line.
“There are six instruments and eight people. So that doesn’t work out so well,” Johnson says.
The students showcased their problems in a video submission for the Manilow Music Project.
Junior Greg Dearmond hopes new equipment would get more people interested in band.
“I think it discourages a lot of people to get involved in music when they see a lot of the embarrassing, low-quality equipment we have,” the trumpet player says.
Dearmond says he's amazed at how many people had shared Wasilla High's video and voted for the band. On Monday the group was third out of all the submissions.
“It’s cool to know we’re in the thoughts of so many other people,” he says.
The students hope the community will band together to help them win the contest and change their tune.
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