Washington High School band director Stewart Alloway is asking the Washington School Board for new instruments.
At last Wednesday’s school board meeting, Alloway told board members that the current brass equipment being used is 30 to 40 years old, and the percussion equipment is about 10 years old. He also said several of the band’s trumpet players are using different brands of trumpets, which makes it difficult to match their sounds.
Alloway asked the board for all new brass instruments and drum line instruments as well as upgrades to the sound equipment.
Student and band member Aiden Van Leer demonstrated the band’s need for new instruments by playing one of its current marching baritones and then playing a new one the band hopes to purchase.
Alloway said he has received two price estimates on the proposed purchases, one from St. Louis-based Nottelmann Music Co. for $252,980 and one from St. Louis-based Palen Music Center for $272,000. River City Music in Washington was unable to provide an estimate in time for the meeting, he said.
“Retail price, that would cost $400,000, but as schools, we do get a very, very, very, very good discount,” Alloway said.
Alloway said the new instruments should last for 30 to 40 years and proposed the district purchase silver instruments, which he said are easier to maintain, rather than gold, which is what the district has now.
Alloway said the marching band booster club and the high school, through its building budget, have each agreed to pay a third of the cost of the new equipment.
Band staff presented the school board with three options: It can pay for the new instruments without the assistance of the booster club or building budget, it can pay all the funds upfront and have the booster club and building budget pay it back over the next two to five years, or it can pay a third of the cost each year for the next five years while the booster club and building budget also put in a third each year.
The board reacted positively to Alloway’s request, and several of the board members took a moment to commend the new band director’s work.
Board member Dan Leslie said he thought the district should pay for the entirety of the instruments, comparing it to the district’s purchases of textbooks, something the district does without the assistance of boosters.
Board member Jason Oesterly asked Alloway what they would do with the old equipment. Alloway said it was too old to be sold to other bands or musicians, but there is a nonprofit in Kansas City that can turn them into art to raise money for charity.
The board then instructed Alloway to draft a request for purchase and return to the board in January, when it will vote on the matter.
“But you have our support,” Board President John Freitag said.
“One hundred percent,” added board member Susan Thatcher.