Middle school band class short on instruments

CARLSBAD — Aviara Oaks Middle School’s band class has always been a refuge for musically inclined students. This year, with nearly 90 students enrolled in beginning band, the class is enjoying popularity like never before.
However with a class roster nearly double the size of previous years, band director Katie Browne now faces a unique problem — there just aren’t enough instruments to go around. And while that fact may intimidate some, it hasn’t held Aviara Oaks’ band family back one bit.
“If it means a kid’s not in band because they don’t have an instrument, you better believe I’m going to go find an instrument for them,” Browne said.
Enrollment in beginning band jumped to 87 students, up from last school year’s 55, bringing the band program to a total of 165 students, Browne said.
It is the largest incoming class she has ever had and it’s certainly putting a strain on the school’s instrument inventory.
In the past, Browne has reached out to fellow district schools to shuffle instruments around if necessary. When funding and donations were up, she replaced old instruments whenever possible.
Unfortunately, neither of these are viable options to fill the void presented by such a large class.
“Normally we need certain things here and there; we might be short on a saxophone where we have extra clarinets, but it’s never been a problem,” she said. “I don’t want to turn any kids away, but that means I have to have instruments for them.”
Unsure of where to start, Browne and her parent board have searched high and low for grants and donations wherever possible.
Parents have spoken before the school district board to highlight the issue and were the first to donate no longer used instruments.
“I’m really lucky to have a big, supportive pool of parents,” Browne said. “They’re always ready to go and eager to help in any way they can.”
As school budgets continue to get cut on a state level and fundraising becomes even more of a challenge, Browne can only hope that she’ll find enough instruments for her students. A former band student herself, she doesn’t want a single interested student to miss out on the experience of being part of a school band — no matter what it takes.
“A band is a family and you learn so much, both in academics and social skills,” Browne asked. “We’ve gotta get these kids going.”
To find out how to help Aviara Oaks’ band students, contact Browne at aoms band.director@gmail.com or (760) 331-6000, ext. 6154.

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