Anderson County Band Faces Shortage of Instruments with Growing Program

The Anderson County Marching Band has been improving every year ever since Patrick Brady started as the band director for both the Anderson County High School and Middle School in 2009.  As the band continues to improve and more students want to join, Patrick is facing a new kind of problem.  “Some of the problems we’re having now is we’re growing faster than we can support ourselves,” Patrick said.

Since he started seven years ago, the band program in both schools has been growing rapidly.  The middle school program has seen an increase of around 100 students, the high school concert band has tripled, and the marching band has gone from 40 members to over 100.  And all these programs are expected to continue to grow by significant amounts next year.

This growth in the program has led to a shortage of instruments.  Many of the instruments and accessories, especially the more expensive ones, are owned by the schools for the students to use.  “I’ve got fewer instruments, flags, and just different things than my kids are able to play,” Patrick said.

An example of the shortage, according to Patrick, is with the high school’s sousaphones.  The school only owns four sousaphones, which are a type of tuba used for marching bands.  With increased interest in the band, there will be more students wanting to play the instrument than are currently available.  And, the current ones have also suffered damage over the years including one being covered in tape to cover holes.

Sousaphones are also not cheap.  According to Patrick, a quality one costs around $9000.  Although he looks for cheaper, functional brands, Patrick said that they are still around $5500 for new while a used one is around $3000.  And, over the years, he has bought, refurbished, and even recreated many well used instruments, even some that were destined for the landfill.

Other instruments used by the band are not even the property of the school.  Patrick was allowed to borrow a set of timpani drums from Ballard High School to replace the old set which now no longer work.  However, even the set from Ballard is in rough shape, dating back to the 1970’s.

Patrick said that he is thankful for what he currently has.  He said that the school board does provide yearly funding for the program and are currently looking into how they can help more, but half of the current budget goes to transportation costs when the band travels for competitions.  They also do fundraisers throughout the year, but just one or two of the more expensive instruments they need would easily outstrip the funds they receive from the board and community.

With the shortage of instruments, Patrick is reaching out to the community, to alumni, and beyond.  He is asking for donations of old instruments that residents may have stored away and might not even think are playable anymore.  With a little work and money, he has transformed a number of old instruments into good enough playable condition for beginners. Patrick has also setup a Paypal donation page for those who would like to donate funds online.

There will also be a percussion ensemble concert this coming Monday at 7pm at the ACHS Theater.  Featuring the Percussion Ensemble, Brass Quintet, Saxophone Quartet, and several soloists, the concert will help raise funds for the band with a recommended donation of $5 for those attending.  For more information about the concert, check out our event calendar.

To contact Patrick and the band, check out their Facebook page.

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