Five years ago while browsing through skis and poles at the Mount Spokane Ski Swap, Dawn Bayman had an epiphany. What if there was an event like this that brought together folks who want to sell gently used band instruments and folks who want to purchase affordable instruments?
On Sept. 12 and 13, at the Spokane Community College Lair student center, Bayman will see her dream come to fruition at the first annual Spokane Instrument Swap. “Everybody we’ve spoken to says, ‘What a great idea!’ ” she said.
For more inspiration she needed to look no farther than her own closets. When her two oldest children went to college, they left their band instruments behind. She and other organizers hope this event will encourage folks to retrieve dusty, forgotten clarinets, flutes and trumpets from attics, closets and bottom drawers. “Why not connect the instruments with students in need?” asked Bayman.
Though it’s taken several years to get the idea off the ground, she said, “Now seemed like the time to do this because of the economy. Everybody’s looking for a way to save money.”
Those who wish to sell instruments will set their own prices and pay a registration fee of $1 or $5 depending on the value of the instrument. If the instrument sells, they’ll pay a 17 percent commission. All proceeds will go to Mt. Spokane High School music programs.
And those funds are needed. Nationwide, school music programs are feeling the pinch of budget cuts. That’s one reason the Mt. Spokane Bandstand organization has rallied behind the instrument swap. The Bandstand is a parent volunteer group that supports the school’s music programs.
Sellers don’t even have to attend the weekend event, because Bandstand members will take care of displaying, securing and selling instruments.
Larry Lawton, Bandstand president, said, “No one else the country has done something like this. We’re pioneers.”
His twin son and daughter are seniors at the school and have been in band since their freshman year. He’s witnessed the hard work and dedication it takes to have a successful band program. “These kids are pretty amazing,” he said. He laughed and added that, in his opinion, “the band kids do more than the football players. They have to march forward and backward and play their instrument!”
In addition to buyers and sellers, representatives from area music stores will be on hand. Lawton said, “We’re so glad the music stores are working with us.” Representatives will be selling accessories like reeds, straps and cases, but more important, they’ll be available to advise potential buyers.
Cyndi Sanchez-Jones, owner of Clearwater Music, will be one of those experts. “I’ve been involved in musical instrument rentals for more than 20 years here in Spokane,” she said. One of the biggest mistakes she sees parents make is buying poorly made new instruments instead of quality used instruments.
“The cheap new instruments can cost around $200 but may not make it till Christmas,” she said. “A good instrument will be about double that.” However, she said, there’s no reason to buy new when high-quality used instruments are available.
Bayman said the advantage of an event like this, as opposed to online sites such as Craigslist or eBay, is that buyers can see, touch and try the instruments. Sanchez-Jones agreed and added, “Beginners need an instrument that plays well and can take what children will do to it. It should be tough and blow easily.”
Sanchez-Jones believes participation in school music programs offers much more than honing musical skills. Looking back fondly on her own school days, she said, “I’m still connected with friends I was in band with 30 years ago.”
Mt. Spokane marching band director James Layman agreed that relationships forged during hours of practice, long road trips and grueling rehearsals have great reward. He said he wears the label “band geek” as a badge of honor.
He discovered his passion for music while playing clarinet at Roosevelt Elementary. “I became obsessed with all of it,” Layman said. “It was a place where I could feel accepted. No matter where you go, when you step into the band room, you’re with family.”
That’s why he’s so excited about the Spokane Instrument Swap. Layman said that while the event will be “an extraordinary opportunity for music students, parents and band directors,” it has additional meaning for him.
“To me this is more than just selling a flute or a clarinet – it’s about starting students on an amazing journey.”
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