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Instruments at an Inner-City Music Program

At Rancho High School in Las Vegas, the band director employs a strategy of instrument inventory that works.

In the blog post, Case Study: A Music Program Succeeds in the Inner City, read how the band program at Rancho High School in Las Vegas was transformed by band director Clint Williams. Even with all its successes, Rancho’s band program operates on a tight budget — owning no semi-trucks, using inexpensive stock uniforms and reusing equipment from season to season as much as possible. However, one area where the band does not skimp is in its instrument inventory.

Williams guarantees that each student in his program receives a school-issued classroom instrument. Those who play brass or woodwinds have one instrument in the classroom and one they can leave at home.

The school owns all of the student instruments and, most importantly, they’re all the same brand. “When you’re talking about at-risk students or low socioeconomic students, they don’t want to feel inferior,” Williams says. “I think it’s important to put everyone on the same playing field.”

How did he afford to provide the band with two instruments for each student? In his first two years at Rancho, Williams was “given a shot in the arm of money to acquire instruments” from the school’s principal, he says.

On top of that, for the first three years, his band did not travel. “All the fundraising we did went into purchasing quality instruments to put in the kids’ hands,” Williams says. “Not a piece of junk but something that was going to last. That’s why I ended up with a lot of Yamaha [instruments] because they’ll last.”

This article originally appeared in the 2018 V3 issue of Yamaha SupportED. To see more back issues, find out about Yamaha resources for music educators, or sign up to be notified when the next issue is available, click here.

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