The Denair Unified School District has a modest music program, but instructor Fred Steiner has ambitious plans to grow it over the next few years.
But to do that, he needs more and better instruments to replace horns and woodwinds and drums that, frankly, are a little past their expiration date and should be retired.
It’s hard to make beautiful music with a clarinet or trumpet that is older than a beginning student’s grandparents, which is why Steiner is inviting members of the Denair community via a video to donate unwanted instruments to the district that may be gathering dust in a closet or attic.
“Several of the instruments we have are 50-60 years old. … A lot of the older instruments have simply been used by many, many students over several decades and they’re reaching a point of requiring a lot of regular, expensive maintenance. I’m hoping we might receive some useful donations that are an upgrade to our current inventory,” explained Steiner, who came to Denair this year after 16 years in the Palos Verdes School District in Southern California.
Already this year, Denair has received one unexpected and very generous donation – a 113-year-old Steinway Model O piano. It was donated by Turlock residents Karen and Jeffrey Lewis.
Steiner has set his sights much lower this time. He’s thinking of families whose children may once have played an instrument, but have no need for it now.
“The two most common things people have in their homes that they tend be happy to part with are drum sets and electric guitars,” Steiner said. “Usually, we’re not talking about high-end stuff.”
Steiner’s wish list includes these instruments:
- Alto Saxophone
- Tenor Saxophone
- French horn
- Snare drum
He’ll also gladly accept donations of a drum set, guitar and bass as well as PA equipment like amplifiers, speakers and microphones.
“I’d say our greatest needs right now are woodwind instruments like flute, clarinet and saxophone,” Steiner said. “Truth is, we REALLY need a new baritone saxophone and a new tenor saxophone — better yet, two of each. But you just don’t find that many people have that kind of thing laying around. Second-greatest needs would be trombone and trumpet.”
Steiner said if he gets too many of the same instrument, he will happily try to sell some online to raise money that can be invested back into the district’s music program.
“Something people originally paid $200ish for when it was new can be turned over for $50-$100 with a little effort and patience,” he said. “Multiply that times five or 10 and you’ve got a pretty helpful resource. … I’m pretty skillful with Craigslist, Offerup and the like, so I don’t mind doing that part of the process.”
The beneficiaries will be the students in Denair’s band and music programs. The bands currently include 23 students at the middle school, 13 at the high school and a beginning group of 30 in fifth grade. Steiner also teaches music to about 300 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, so there is plenty of need for upgraded instruments.
“We have a great deal of community enthusiasm for building a strong, active school band program,” Steiner said. “Our vision is to increase the number of students who participate to a level that allows us to enrich all students’ lives through the benefits of music and enhance each school community through participation in pep rallies, sporting events and local events like the holiday parade.”
Anyone who would like to donate an instrument can email or call Steiner to set up a drop-off time at the high school. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, his school phone (209) 632-9911 ext. 4249 or by cell phone (310) 357-4920.