When students play a large instrument such as a tuba or a baritone saxophone, it’s not uncommon to share it with another student.
However, with COVID-19 safety precautions, sharing instruments is not allowed, and many Sarasota County Schools are lacking enough instruments to go around.
To help combat this, many Sarasota music schools have started a grassroots effort to collect enough instruments for each student, whether on campus or remote, to play.
Riverview High School Director of Bands Andrew Dubbert said in a typical year his trombone players would each have their own mouthpieces, but they would share the instruments. However, because they are not allowed this year, he had a shortage of instruments, which would mean not every student would get to play every time.
“Even if students are using their own mouthpiece, they’re still blowing air and occasionally spit through an instrument,” he said. “Obviously that’s not something we want, so we just have to be extra careful right now.”
Most music teachers in the district have taken inventory of what instruments they have and how many they need. If they have too many of one instrument, they are offering them to another teacher in the district.
However, even with that kind of sharing, there are many teachers who are still short-handed on instruments. So, music teachers are asking members of the community who have old instruments lying around to donate them to the district.
“We’re asking for anything,” Dubbert said. “Old acoustic guitars, those small keyboards you can buy at Walmart. We’re trying to get anything that we can so every students has the opportunity to learn the same way.”
Those wishing to donate are asked to drop instruments off at either Sarasota Middle School or Venice High School. Already, Dubbert has received two trombones through donations.
“There’s people in the community that have instruments just sitting in their closet that haven’t been played for however many years,” he said. “This is an opportunity to get rid of them, and I promise they will go to a great home.”
Students are allowed to share instruments that can be sanitized after each use, such as pianos, guitars and cellos, but even still, teachers throughout the district are struggling to get enough instruments for students at school and at home to play.
“Right now, our guitar teacher has enough guitars for every student at school to use, but for the online learners, unless their parents are going to go buy one, they don’t have a guitar to learn on,” he said.
Among the instruments needed: flutes, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, saxophones, French horns, trumpets, trombones, baritones, tubas, percussion instruments, violins, violas, cellos, upright basses, bass guitars and electronic keyboards.
Donations of acoustic pianos or organs are not allowed.
Those interested in donating are asked to contact [email protected] or [email protected].