Instruments scarce for growing Blue Pride

LISBON-The Lisbon Blue Pride Marching Band is growing, and there are barely enough instruments left over for the rest of the band.

Sophomore Aaron Kemats began learning a baritone horn when he first joined band in eighth grade because there weren’t any sliding trumpets left, and that horn is on its last leg, according to his mother, Band Boosters secretary Laurie Kemats.

“He plays a baritone horn that looks like it’s been run over by a train. Even we can’t afford to buy one, they are over $600 for a brand new one,” she said.

She is thankful the school provided an instrument, however, because otherwise he would not have joined.

“When we joined marching band I was concerned about fees. We don’t have a lot of money and they said they would provide an instrument for us,” she said.

This is his first year participating in the marching band, which as of last year only had 25 members, including flagline. The marching band, including flagline, is now up to 45 members.

Mrs. Kemats said her son had to share his instrument with another band member all last year, although they had separate mouth pieces, but not all instruments being shared have individual mouth pieces, like the brass. Those are washed in hot water before being used, she said.

“It’s so hard to do concerts or have all the kids together because they share so many instruments,” she said.

Even band director Amy Little, who took over the program last year, loaned out three of her own instruments: two trumpets and a clarinet.

“Everyone in the marching band does have an instrument. I’m not 100 percent certain about concert season,” she said. “I know there are two other people that have borrowed instruments. One borrowed a clarinet from the flagline because she was on the flagline for marching season.”

The band is not only dealing with an instrument shortage, but the ones being used are in such poor shape they sometimes break, she added.

“We need more instruments. All instrument donations would be greatly appreciated,” Kemats said.

The boosters will also take monetary donations.

The band can’t purchase new instruments right now because the boosters spent all of its money on new uniforms that will arrive Oct. 6, she explained.

The band has not had new uniforms for at least 20 years, Kemats said. “All of our money has gone to new uniforms and then we never expected for the band to double.”

Aaron Kemats said he isn’t sure why more students are joining band, but new music selections and a new director could have something to do with it.

He described the new music as “more generational,” with tunes from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, whereas former band selections were mostly more 1980s.

Little said she chose a lot of classic rock music last year that she figured the audience would recognize, and moved forward with that idea again this year.

“This year I got some more songs that the audience would recognize. When the audience is having fun they respond more to what the kids are doing and that makes the kids feel good because they are being noticed,” she said.

The marching band has been practicing every day- sometimes nine hours a day – the last two weeks in preparation for their new season and preview night, Aug. 15.

Little said the goal of preview night is to give parents and the community a chance to see the hard work the band has done.

“It’s also a competition for the kids, and they have a lot of fun with that,” she said.

For example, anyone who makes a mistake during the program must go sit down and the last student standing gets bragging rights for the rest of the year.

Students practiced from 9 a.m. to noon the first week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week and will practice 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. all this week. They may even go into a fourth week, although that could change depending on how things are going, Kemats said.

Preview night is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Lisbon David Anderson High School stadium.

“The kids have made this easy for me, they are just a great group of kids that work really well together. They work really hard for me and they are the ones that wanted to make our band better and bigger and they have succeeded in doing that,” Little said.