Stand Up For The Music Program At West


Havalah Heale, Advertising Editor

Have you seen the music classes at West High? They’re packed. Every day, dedicated students of all ages play, sing, and practice. Except for the occasional twang of a guitar or out-of-tune voice crack, it’s almost heavenly. Or at least, it used to be. Because only a lucky few are playing. Although the goal of the class is to play an instrument or sing, many students do not have an instrument to play at all. This is because West’s music program is currently facing a big problem—instrument shortages. Turn your head, and you’ll see open lockers. Empty lockers. For a single class. 

There are a lot of kids in band, choir, guitar, and string electives. It’s cool! However, there’s not always enough music to go around. Even after the first month of school has finished, many student permission forms allowing you to take instruments out of the classroom aren’t filled out. Because these forms include a fee to rent an instrument, West’s music funding is facing dire consequences. The cost of fixing even a third of the instruments that need fixing is three times the current budget. Currently, classes are overcrowded and there isn’t enough funding to replace or even get rid of broken instruments. In this article, I’ll go over why, and how this is caused, and what you can do to help! 

So why not just fix or replace instruments? Just because it’s easy to replace an instrument doesn’t guarantee that it will be replaced. Why? It’s the cost. The average cost of a decent used guitar is anywhere from one hundred to three hundred dollars. Cellos that Mr. Blodgett has in his classroom are knock-off versions that cost the district five hundred dollars each, as opposed to the eight hundred dollars to a thousand dollars that an average cello would cost. Steel panned instruments (like drum sets) are about two thousand dollars apiece, as a minimum. Big price jumps, am I right!? 

As awesome as it would be to have completely free electives, that doesn’t work out budget-wise. West’s music classes have almost doubled in size since three years ago, and the band teacher, Mr. Blodgett, currently has a budget of just under $600. Not 600k, not even 6k, an amount that would cover less than half of the class expenses and repairs. Blodgett has less than six hundred dollars in his budget. This is supposed to stretch for six classes, and on top of that, it’s supposed to be for the whole year!

This budget also needs to make up the repairs for last year’s classes. Due to the pandemic, West wasn’t allowed to charge a fee for any class, which was great for students, but bad for the program. For those of you who don’t know, you have to pay a small fee if you choose to rent an instrument from the school, as many students do. It will usually cost between thirty to sixty dollars. Even if it may seem on the higher end, our school’s fees are less expensive than those found in most other schools. Many schools have three or four rental instruments or none at all, and all students’ parents and guardians must pay for textbooks and instruments as a given. Schools that have these programs are able to cut down on music program costs by a lot, because the school won’t have to pay for any expensive instruments.

    So is West’s music program in danger (because of budget cuts)? 

“Yes, the music program at West is in danger. However, it’s not because of budget cuts,” says Blodgett. He went on to explain that, when there aren’t enough kids in the program—or at least when the number of students enrolled is under what is “needed” by the district—it’s decided that the program doesn’t need to be continued at West High. (This is also true for all the art programs at West.)

When I started talking about the budget shortfalls at West, Mr. Blodgett started laughing and had an amused look on his face.

“Well, just this year I put together a list that will cost about three thousand dollars. It’s to fix the drum equipment, and for orchestra and band—well I haven’t been able to think about fixing that for years. To fix and replace everything—hmm that could be in the 10,000-15,000 dollar range.” I always knew instruments cost a lot, but I never really fathomed how much it could be. 

“Are you spending your own money on your program? If so, how often and how much?” I asked Blodgett. 

“Yes, I do spend my own money. I try hard not to think about it,” Blodgett said. He couldn’t give an exact amount, but Blodgett mentioned that he was spending at least fifty dollars a month on his program. To break that down, a school lasts nine months out of the year. That means that over one school year, fifty dollars a month will turn into at least four ​hundred and fifty dollars by the end of the year. Additionally, when something like a guitar is broken, Blodgett spends time and effort outside of school trying to fix instruments—a task that can take hours even for an expert. That must take a lot of determination. Thank you, Mr. Blodgett! 

By now, I bet you’re wondering what you can do to help the music programs at West! Here’s an answer from Mr. Blodgett himself!

“The best thing students can do is to advocate for the performing art programs and make room in their schedules to sign up for them [the performing arts] even just as an elective. You’ll get a fine arts credit too. I know that intro to design and other things are fun, but we need more students to advocate for music! So go sign up, and come on in and have a good time with us.” 

Unless students make an effort to advocate for them, West’s music and other performing arts classes will always be in danger of cancelation. Instrument rental fees are low, and not ​paying rental fees can result in loss of instruments and a loss of funding for this year and the years to come. Last but not least, please try to advocate for the arts—it truly helps West’s music programs.

The pandemic may have affected West’s performing arts, but by no means will we let it cancel them. If you want to donate to West’s performing arts, just go to, click “Donate to Others” and make a donation to the “West High Music Program” or another awesome school program today.