Hazel Park band program seeks instruments for students

Instruments can be dropped off at Hazel Park High School

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published April 22, 2013

HAZEL PARK — There are currently 135 sixth-graders enrolled in the band program at Hazel Park Public Schools. They want to be part of something greater, creating music.

But Bradley Elstone, band director at Hazel Park High School, knows there are other sixth-graders who want to be part of band, too. The only problem is,  for some of them, the cost of buying or renting an instrument is prohibitively expensive.

Looking to solve this, the band program is asking anyone who has an instrument they can spare to consider donating it to the cause. The instruments will then be restored to playable condition and loaned out to students who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

“We would prefer that every student be able to rent an instrument through A&G Central Music in Madison Heights, who have been a supporter of our program,” Elstone said. “However, what we don’t want to do is for any kid to be turned away because of any kind of hardship, financially or otherwise, where they can’t afford to be in band.”

The instruments can be dropped off in the front office of Hazel Park High School, 23400 Hughes Avenue.

They can also be dropped off during the Hazel Park Band Boosters’ spring fundraiser May 3-5, when students will be going out to collect donations in front of local businesses.

The band room will be open to accept donations from 5-8 p.m. May 3, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 4, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 5. 

“If someone doesn’t have an instrument to donate, the Band Boosters can always use monetary donations, as well,” said Robbie Webb, the group’s treasurer.

Currently, they have some of the more expensive instruments available for students to borrow, like baritones, bass clarinets, bassoons, French horns, oboes and tubas.

While the district could always use more of these, what they really need are instruments like clarinets, flutes, trombones, trumpets and saxophones, which tend to be the starting point for students joining band. 

A couple of former students have already donated their clarinets, Elstone said, while others donated a couple of trumpets. The more instruments they collect and restore, the more students will be able to join the band program.

“The district has been great in investing in the band program; they’ve always supported us, and this is just another avenue for our parent organizations to reach out and help other parents discover what awesome programs we have here,” Elstone said.

“We start with the sixth-graders, since our goal is to get them interested and keep them there,” he said. “You have to have a good experience in order to stay in something, and we want every sixth-grade student to have a positive learning experience in band.”

Half of the student population at Hazel Park Junior High is enrolled in band, Elstone said, and while he feels this is good, he says the number could be higher. He’s working with Todd Ross and Scott Hill, the junior high band directors, to achieve precisely that.

The Hazel Park Youth Aid Foundation has provided financial assistance to a number of families who wanted their child to be involved in band, but more help is needed. That’s where the instrument donations come in. The students in band are a group of kids worth supporting, Webb said.

“I have been involved in the program, on and off, for 10 years,” said Webb. “I watch these kids and admire the friendly atmosphere, the positives that come out of them supporting one another. They’re all goal-oriented, focused on leadership and success, and being in band gives them many life skills. They’re like a big family that can depend on each other. You can’t find a better set of kids.”

Instruments can be dropped off in the front office of Hazel Park High School, 23400 Hughes Avenue. The band room will also be open to accept donations from 5-8 p.m. Friday, May 3; from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4; and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 5. For more information, call (248) 658-5100.