Band director seeks used instruments

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By Kenny Colston

A local middle school band director is asking the community to help another band in need.

Robert Parker, band director at South Oldham Middle School, is collecting band instruments to send to a new program in Fulton County, in far western Kentucky.

Parker is following up on a plea by Stephanie Mora, the teacher tasked with restarting a band program that was terminated due to budget cuts roughly seven years ago.

“I know we’re one of the more well off counties (in Kentucky),” Parker said. “And Fulton is one of the poorer. So I figured we could help out. I know there are instruments collecting dust out there.”

The program in Fulton County is in its infant stages, with a high school band just restarting last year, Mora said. The equipment is for a middle school band, to give students some experience and training before they get to high school, she said.

Mora, who works at Fulton County Elementary Middle School, a kindergarten through eighth grade school, was hired as an arts and humanities teacher. But as she got settled at the school, she realized more and more people missed the band program.

“It just happened to where people said, ‘we use to do it, we’ve got a few instruments left over’ and I had an extra period open, so I went over to the high school and started the band again,” Mora said.

The community has taken to the high school band being restarted and the restart was successful last year, Mora said. That lead to the idea to start a middle school band program, but unfortunately all the leftover equipment was being used by the new high school band, she said.

“We’re a title one school, 86 percent of our kids are on free or reduced lunch,” Mora said. “They can’t afford instruments, or even afford to rent instruments.”

So far, the middle school program has seen one donation of a few instruments, Mora said, which leaves a big desire for more.

“Even if it’s not brand new, we’ll take anything at this point,” she said.

Parker, who has spent years as band director at SOMS, said with the amount of students he’s taught over the years, he knows there are instruments sitting around Oldham County that can be sent to Fulton’s program.

“They are starting from scratch,” Parker said. “So anything a kid can play in a band, they need.”

Parker will take donations until mid-March at SOMS. As for why he’s doing this for a program half-a-state away, Parker said he knows a band program can make a difference in a student’s life.

“I know how band is so important for kids, especially in areas less well off,” Parker said. “If they don’t have anything else, band can teach a lot of life lessons.”

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