BELDING – When Belding High School junior Cody Van Buren was able to pick out one of four brand new baritone horns to play in the Belding High School Symphonic Band, he looked at the situation with a new sense of pride.
“It kind of makes me feel like I’m special in the band because there were four (baritones) and I got to pick one,” Van Buren said. “It sounds nice and makes me feel like there are people who care about the band.”
Van Buren’s baritone was one of several instruments purchased after the Belding Area Schools Board of Education approved spending $64,924 of bond money set aside for high school equipment to purchase band equipment in October 2011.
Belding Director of Bands Laura Hyler said the equipment purchases, which all arrived between November and January, have already paid dividends, both in benefits of sound of the band and confidence of her students.
“For successful as this program is, it’s been a great attribute to the kids,” Hyler said. “I couldn’t be more happy and more thankful for new instruments. It’s been a huge confidence builder to the kids that are playing on them and they’ve taken great ownership and pride in it.”
The instruments replaced include tubas, sousaphones, baritones, euphoniums, baritone saxophones, bass clarinets, saxophones, tenor saxophones, timpani drums, trumpet and a piccolo.
For Austen Giles, a senior tuba player in the band, the fact that he can now see his own reflection in his instrument is a change he hopes people will take notice of.
“Our old tubas were about 30 years old or so,” Giles said. “I don’t know what was on them, but they were kind of (grimy), you couldn’t see yourself in the reflection at all. These are just great, they’re shiny and you can see yourself.”
Junior tenor saxophone player Mitchel Dykla said he believes the new instruments have made the entire band sound better, despite only having the instruments a few weeks or months.
“The fingerings are a lot closer together on the new (instrument),” Dykla said. “It allows for better playing and is much easier and makes it a lot more in tune. It’s tremendous how much better we sound because all of our old instruments are beat up, which changes how they sound, but now with all of the new (instruments) without the dents it just sounds way better.”
Hyler said one of the biggest advantages affecting the sound of the band was is the introduction of the four-valve euphoniums and tubas, as opposed to the older instruments which only had three valves.
“With having a fourth valve on the euphonious and tubas, that’s helped fix a lot of the intonation problems that we’ve had,” she said. “It’s helped fix specific notes that were really out of tune.”
Hyler said most of the older instruments were beyond repair and could not be serviced, but the ones that were salvageable were donated to the Belding Middle School band program.
“I know things like this don’t come around very often, but we’re going to take very good care of these (instruments) and hope they last another 30 years,” she said.