Man what a crazy year! I’m sure your year is just as crazy as mine, but after a job change, moving houses, and my wife and I having a baby, I’ve had my hands full! But I’m finally in a place where I can start blogging again about useful tips and ideas on how we can become more effective, and more efficient music educators!
One of the challenges of my new job is a very tight budget! I’ve been working hard all year long to come up with cost effective ways to run a program with 6 different ensembles, and it hasn’t been easy. But I’ve found a number of ways to cost save, and thought I might share what I’ve found with you! Here’s 5 ways to save your music program money!
Mouthpiece Sanatizer – Mouthpiece sanitizer is an awesome product that allows players to stay healthy, and teachers to reuse equipment without spreading the flu across the whole class. But those commercial sanitizers can have a “mighty” high price tag. Because of this I just make my own!
Go to your local dollar store and purchase wintergreen-scented rubbing alcohol, and cheap mouthwash. I mix the two in a 1:1 ratio and put it in a spray bottle. When you’re ready to use it just spray it on, let it sit for a few seconds, then wipe it off with a clean paper towel. It’s that simple! I can make a year’s supply for less than $5!
Free Sheet Music – If you haven’t looked for free music on the interwebs recently, you’re really missing out! And no, I’m not talking about pirated copyright infringed works. I’m talking about public domain music that’s free for anyone to use! The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP for short) is an awesome tool for finding older public domain works in a variety of contexts. Looking for a manuscript copy of The Stars & Stripes Forever? It’s right here! It’s absolutely amazing what you can find for both large and small ensembles, as well as tons of solo works. Most of what you will find are scanned copies of very old published versions. With a little time spent in your favorite music notation program, you can have a beautiful new edition ready to perform!
Want newer music? Check out the various websites of our Armed Forces ensembles. The US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors have tons of educator resources for free, including posters, videos, as well as 14 full length jazz charts in various difficulty levels in PDF format that are free to print and use. This is all my jazz groups have been playing this year, and they love them!
Listening Library – Find recordings of pieces you like on YouTube, and simply create a playlist that you can share with your students. Not a fan of YouTube? Try Spotify! Spotify has paid and free versions of their product, but either option will allow you to create playlists. Once you create the playlist, use the embed code and embed the playlist and player into your website. Students can go to your website and listen to the music for free. Best of all, if you ever add or delete music from your playlist, your website will automatically reflect the changes!
Basic Repair – Repairs are expensive, and can often take a while. To save frustration and some money, try doing some basic repairs yourself.
For some reason brass players can’t help but damage their mouthpieces. The Deg Mouthpiece Trueing Tool works well for repairing those damaged mouthpiece shanks. Simply place the tool in the shank, a few taps of a rawhide mallet, and you have a mouthpiece as good as new.
DEG Magnum Mouthpiece Puller is a must if your brass players are like mine. I don’t know how they always manage to get their mouthpiece stuck. There are cheaper mouthpiece pullers out there, but this one works the best in my opinion, and I always have it with me.
Valentino Deluxe Repair Kit. These kits are the ideal emergency repair kits! I always travel with one to contests because instruments always seem to break down when you need them the most. The pads are self adhering and easy to pop in or out, and seal up nicely. They won’t last forever, but they are a great, inexpensive fix that can keep most of your woodwind repairs in house and in a hurry!
For resetting springs get a set of Spring Hook Tweezers. These tools can reach into tight places and put a spring back in the correct place with ease.
Repurpose – Several years back I had a bunch of unusable instrument storage shelving that we needed to remove in order to expand our uniform room. The shelves were so huge that they wasted space no matter what you put in them. Way too big for a tuba, but not big enough for two, and about 8 feet off of the floor.
They were insane. We removed them and gave them to one of our band dads who took it back to his home, cut some scrap wood, and turned it into the most awesome percussion storage cabinet you could imagine. Everything was completely adjustable, could hold exactly what we needed, and didn’t cost us a dime! Have those old music stands that won’t stay up? Have your shop class weld them flat to create a trap table for your percussionists. The sky is the limit here! Look around at your graveyard of junk and think about what you need, and what could fill that need with a little tweaking!
Have any ideas on how to save money? Leave a comment below, or continue the conversation on Facebook!