Band Benevolence


(These examples are NOT current students.)

It did not take long into band camp for both directors to recognize that newbie was not going to be ‘typical’. After the marching shoes were distributed and there remained an identified box, we learned the student couldn’t pay and had acquired a used pair. Only too late did we discover that not signing up for solo contest was a financial decision. With anonymous funding, we provided this student with private lessons. Student will graduate in Music Education and credits that scholarship help.
Student receives step-up instrument and plans to major in music. Toward end of the 1yr warranty, instrument is sent in for a final warranty check-up, but then we learn that parents were behind in payments and the store will not return the instrument. With some non-school funding, we got the instrument back. Student started college as a music major. 
Student displays moldy, severely cracked/chipped reed, claiming, “I don’t have money”. When is the last time you replaced that reed? “Two years ago.” Provided reed.
Student requests private lessons. Months later, student tells teacher that s[he] can’t continue for financial reasons. Teacher offered to continue anyway, but that rarely works. When the parents learned student had been using money from part time job to pay for lessons, they started charging rent. Discontinued.

I spent periodic time after school with a student interested in music as a college pursuit and suggested asking parents to provide for expert instruction. I also advised that a student going into music would be expected to have better than beginner-level equipment. Father asked me: 1) You’re the music teacher, right? 2) Isn’t that the instrument you told me to buy in 6th grade? No lessons, no improved instrument and no college.


I understand the part about Music Education being about Academic and Music Standards. I get that. But, as a former student of mine who is currently a medical doctor and former school board member says,

“It is about more than JUST music.”

It is also about meeting needs.

I have asked the BPO to consider a “Benevolence Fund” which the directors would have discretion for use to meet needs without having to reveal the beneficiaries. As requested, the topic was tabled until the new officers take over.

You are probably the actively involved parent who would make just about any sacrifice to enhance your child’s success. “Preaching to the choir” comes to mind.

But there are parents we NEVER see, who do NOTHING more than ALLOW the student to be in band… no transportation, no support, no encouragement, and NO MONEY.

Life would be less stressful for directors if we could just deal with what comes in the door freshman year, adjust to all of life’s realities and then play them off at graduation? So why the extra effort?

Because when I was one of five children in a single parent family, my director went to bat for me. He convinced my parents I needed a better instrument. (Ok, I had to earn half…..but I got it.) He found me the best clarinet teacher in the region, who allowed me to “pay” for lessons in yard work rather than cash. They both helped me get to go to summer music camps so that by graduation, college was taken care of….COMPLETELY! I wrote a tribute to Four Influential Men in my life. Read it.

PARENTS…. I want to do that for YOUR child….or SOMEBODY’S child. And I will. But for those things that involve money, I could use your help. Please consider it.

STUDENTS… some day, when you are considering influential people in your life…..I hope to be one of them. And if I am, I say to you….


“Now It Is Your Turn”.


John Gardner
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One thought on “Band Benevolence

  1. Shortly after the original post of “Band Benevolence” on the band blog, a community member contacted me asking about the possibility of making an anonymous donation to a “Benevolence Fund” via automatic payroll deduction and electronic transfer. What do you think of that?

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