ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — From the drums to the saxophone, it’s safe to say many people in the Roanoke Valley know and have heard “the Sound of the Highlands,” courtesy of the Glenvar Bands.
However, the band members are facing an upcoming battle because they need new instruments.
Band director Colt Campbell says the life span of a “well-maintained” instrument should be around 15 years old. However, most of the bands’ inventory is more than 40 years old.
“I pulled out a barry sax today, and I pulled it out and it’s right over there. I looked at the date on the inventory 1964 was the date that the instruments were purchased,” said Campbell.
On top of that, Campbell says the middle and high school band classes are already maintaining high retention. He adds that they already have at least 100 members, as well as two sixth grade classes expected to join band practice next year.
“We are growing so much and we are looking at tremendous rapid growth all in one year,” said Campbell. “We’re not only getting a ton of kids, sixth graders, but retaining the kids we have.”
Campbell says the bands are in dire need of bigger instruments, such as tubas, sousaphones, woodwind instruments, and more. They also need smaller instruments like clarinets and flutes for students who cannot afford to purchase their own.
While the students in the Glenvar Bands know about the woes they face in the future, many — if not all — are working tirelessly to practice their craft.
“It’s so much more about the music. The sooner you can forget about just trying to play the notes technically, you can get into the notes and feel it. That is what I love,” explained Nick Louvet, a clarinet player.
Louvet says this band is like his family, but it also requires dedication. He says people need to see that band involves more than just playing an instrument. Instead, it is more about having a social environment where you can connect with people.
“Once kids join the band and see that dedication, and will explode and grow so much,” Louvet said.
Many other students agree with Louvet, saying that playing music isn’t the only important thing.
“In the beginning, you start to gain all these friendships and connections that you would not originally get, and it’s something that you can really depend on, like a big family,” said Lauren Starkey, a French horn player.
Starkey says she started playing the French horn in sixth grade, so she knows what it is like to be a middle schooler joining a band for the first time.
“It’s definitely exciting to be able to have this musical ability,” Starkey said.
Another band member to echo Starkey’s remarks is Josie Fraticelli.
“We have a great program, and with Mr. Campbell, the program is going to be fabulous in the years to come. I’m disappointed that I am leaving it after next year,” said Fraticelli, a saxophone player.
According to Fraticielli, getting more instruments is vital because Roanoke County Public Schools provides instruments for students unable to afford them. That being said, they do not have enough for the new groups of students who are coming in.
If you want to donate to the band, you can contribute to its 501(c)(3) organization, The Band Boosters.
Campbell says the band is a family and he would hate to deny any child the beauty of playing music. However, he adds that music is not just what they do, it is who they are.