CENTRAL POINT — In their four years with the Crater High School band, seniors Jazmine Stucker and Jesse Meadows have witnessed some interesting mishaps with decades-old band instruments in need of repair.
With budget cuts and limited funding for art and music programs in district and regional schools, students who use school-owned instruments play equipment anywhere from 30 to 50 years old.
They joke that the band's unofficial colors are orange, black and duct tape silver.
"We have to resort to duct-taping instruments a lot and sometimes we make Frankensteins, where we put pieces of one with another broken one to get one that plays," Meadows explained.
"We do pretty good with what we have, but it's frustrating sometimes."
From one wall of the band room, all of three once-white sousaphones hang, yellowed with seams bound by varying sizes of duct tape.
Another wall boasts a line of bass drums with shoulder straps layered in peeling duct tape and a trombone with more crinkles and dents than smooth surface.
Nestled somewhere in an old case, an ailing saxophone is affectionately dubbed "Penny," for the copper coin soldered over a hole in the instrument's bell.
Stucker points out that she is the school's only baritone saxophone player because there's only one instrument available.
"This is the third one I've played in four years because they have all fallen apart," she said.
"They get to where they are in such horrible condition we can't play them anymore because pieces are coming off. We actually had a student who played bari sax come to us and we didn't have an instrument for them to play."
Stucker gestures to her case, with hinges secured by various layers of duct tape and wood strips for added strength.
"It could be worse," she adds. "This is the case I keep it in."
While Stucker and Meadows keep a sense of humor about the situation, they say they are grateful for the community's support of the band and hope things improve for future band members.
"We pretty much do fundraising for everything we need," Stucker offered.
"But instruments cost a lot so we have to work with what we have."
The students hope the community will step up with donations of gently used instruments or money for repairs. Perhaps their plea will jog the memories of community members who have instruments — sans duct tape — unused in attics and spare bedrooms, they said.
Rae Colson, also a senior, said donations of instruments would mean more than funding.
"Instruments cost a lot but if people had instruments they weren't using, it would be cheaper than us buying them," she said.
Central Point schools Director of Business Services Vicki Robinson said the district is dependent on community donations, cash or otherwise.
"Unfortunately, we as a district have come more and more to rely on things like fundraising and donations," Robinson said. "If we can put a little more duct tape on to make something last a little longer, it's a way to survive."
Renaissance Academy, the small school at Crater High that houses the band program, received $45,000 this fiscal year to pay for all supplies.
Arts programs received $6,000, of which the band got about $1,500, said director Bryan Burkett.
Burkett said he was proud of students for making do with antiquated equipment and still managing great performances.
"We have pictures in 1964 or '65 that a student showed me and it was two of the same sousaphones we're using now. We use it until it can't be used anymore."
For information on donating to Crater band, contact Burkett at 541-494-6350 or e-mail email@example.com.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.