BRASSED OFF: South Lismore Primary School students.
BRASSED OFF: South Lismore Primary School students.

Money a dampener on music at school

By Bree Price

Jess Wraight clutches her saxophone with excitement as her Lismore South Public School band fills the room with the jumbled sounds of practice notes.

Band rehearsal is about to begin and 11-year-old Jess can't wait to start.

She is one of the lucky ones.

Lismore South Public School is one of only a handful of Northern Rivers primary schools that have the resources to operate a school band.

However, the band is fighting to survive as costs of instruments increase and the availability of music tutors decrease.

Band director Diana Hasthorpe said the school couldn't afford to buy new instruments as older ones fall into disrepair.

"A lot of our band instruments were originally donated in 1980," Mrs Hasthorpe said.

"Some are second-hand or third-hand or fourth-hand, and some have seen their last legs and can't be repaired anymore."

She said she was concerned the band wouldn't be able to continue if she left the school.

"I worry who would take over the band," she said.

"The school would probably have to look at hiring someone, and that puts costs up.

"It's like a vicious circle at times."

Goonellabah Public School is another local primary school operating a school band, with tuition held during school hours.

The school's music program coordinator Leone Cox said she, too, worried what would happen if she left.

"I'm close to retirement and I need to know there's younger people to take over the stuff we've been doing," she said.

She said the financial burden of playing an instrument often prevented students from joining the band.

"I would have 10 or 15 kids who have gone home and pleaded with their parents to be part of the musical program," she said.

"But they just can't afford it.

"It would be phenomenal if there was a way we could fund some of these kids."

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