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Muscatine School District investing one million dollars into music programs

Muscatine, Iowa-- The Muscatine School District is investing one-million dollars into it's music programs.

Band director, Jeff Heid, has been pushing for the money for over six months but the program has needed new equipment since before he started seventeen years ago.

"This is long overdue," said Heid, "We have a baritone here somewhere that's about eighty-five years old and the middle schools have instruments that are held together with duct tape".

The problem has gotten so bad they have a cabinet for broken instruments. Cracked horns, trumpets with missing pieces and valves line the inside of the cabinet.

Students are just as frustrated as the teachers. "It just gets frustrating when you can't make the right sounds or the right notes come out of your instrument and it's not even your fault," said Isabelle Hartman. Hartman is a freshman in orchestra. Her double bass has seen better days.

Muscatine junior Ethan Sher participates in all of the music programs and wishes this money could have came in earlier. "I was playing on a trombone that was less than adequate and my band director believes that had I gotten a slightly better instrument sooner, I would have grown a lot more," said Sher.

Sher also shared he is from a lower income family and without the existing equipment he wouldn't have been able to play at all.

Other students like Sher haven't been able to join the music programs for that reason. Not only was a lot of the equipment out of date, there just wasn't enough to go around.

The broken equipment also discouraged young musicians. "You want a functional instrument and when an instrument doesn't stay in tune you have a kid who is constantly sitting there trying to get it in tune and they lose motivation because they spend more time fixing than they do actually participating in the music," said orchestra teacher, Jonathan Thoma. Thoma's orchestra program grew from twenty-three students to 130 in just one year. This money will help fund that.

While a million dollars is a lot of money both teachers believe this is an important investment.

"I think our district recognizes that the students in our music programs are thriving. Not only are numbers going up but graduation rate is great with them," said Heid.