Central Valley High School’s instrumental music department travels often during the school year. For marching bands in particular, travel means moving large instruments – four marimbas, two vibraphones, a xylophone, two synthesizers, a heavy sound board, several speakers, uniforms, trumpets, saxophones, baritones, mellophones, flags, snares, bass drums and more.
After every performance, the students usually need about two hours to load all of this equipment into four U-Haul trucks – a task that sometimes causes tempers to flare.
“Kids are kids,” said band director Eric Parker. “They get frustrated.”
This fall, the students will have a new moving trailer, courtesy of the CV Band Boosters. The trailer is 48 feet long, 13 feet high and about 8 ½ feet wide.
The boosters purchased the trailer outright – they paid $8,000 for it and plan to spend $10,000 to construct an interior to fit the band’s needs.
Parker contacted an old friend, Paul Lack, who has helped eight other schools design a trailer interior. Lack has donated the design to CV.
Parker said there are five points of entry into the trailer. Once completed, he estimates the two-hour job of loading will turn into about 15 minutes.
There are plans for ramps, winches and halogen lights powered by a 7,000-watt propane generator. There will be exterior cabinets for the tuba players to store their instruments without having to step inside. The battery – the marching snares, quad toms and bass drums – will have their own section of the trailer for their equipment.
When band camp starts Aug. 13, students will learn how to load the trailer, Parker said.
He estimates the trailer will have paid for itself in about three years. Instead of renting four trucks, filling four tanks of gas and getting four drivers, there will just be one truck. Parents with commercial driver’s licenses have already volunteered to drive.
While the construction of the trailer is expected to be done by the beginning of the school year, it will keep its “United Van Lines” logo until the boosters raise the money to change it. Parker said it will cost about $8,500 to paint it white with a small logo, or they could spend $10,000 for a vinyl wrap that would last seven years. A dedicated fund for this part of the project has been established.
The trailer won’t just be used for marching band. Concert band, jazz band and the orchestra will be able to use it.
“Any instrumental music group in the school will have access,” Parker said.
He said the band boosters help him enormously throughout the year.
“For all band directors,” he said, “all we hope for is that we can be used as music teachers.” He said they have taken care of so many things that he doesn’t have to worry about. They order T-shirts, they worry about tax issues when they buy equipment from different states. They are also goal oriented, which shows the students that if they set goals and stay organized things can happen.
Austin Nguyen, a marimba player who has been responsible for loading the trucks, said his senior year in marching band just got easier.
“I am really excited, actually,” he said. Parker is, too.
“Now every part of the marching band experience can be healthy,” Parker said.