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Posted: January 21, 2019

Prolonging the Life of Musical Instruments

The APS Music Instrument Repair Shop fixes more than a thousand instruments a year. Still, there is a need for new instruments. More than $7 million of the proposed bond/mill levy package would go to the APS Fine Arts program for instruments, uniforms and other equipment.

Jim Hopkins and Catherine Cunningham have repaired countless musical instruments for Albuquerque Public Schools. From oboes and tubas to violins and kettle drums, the pair fixes more than a thousand instruments a year, saving the district money and, more importantly, helping to keep the music playing in schools across the city. 

The life of a band or orchestra instrument in the care of a teenager musician is precarious, even with the district’s dynamic duo on repairs. That is why APS is hoping to use funding from the proposed bond/mill levy package to help pay for new instruments. If voters check yes on the mail-in ballots due back to the County Clerk’s Office by Feb. 5, $7.3 million of the funding would go to the APS Fine Arts program including instruments, uniforms and other equipment.

APS lends more than 18,000 pieces equipment from mouthpieces to sousaphones to middle and high school students each year. Clarinets that would otherwise cost a student $300, $400 for trumpets, $800 for saxophones and violins, $1,500 for cellos, $3,000 for Bari saxophones. Many students wouldn’t be able to participate in music classes and co-curricular activities if APS didn’t have these instruments to lend.

Thanks to Hopkins and Cunningham, the district has been successful in prolonging the lives of instruments that were dropped, run over, left in the rain, taken apart and stuffed with all types of objects. In the pair’s repair shop is a wall of shame that features many of the items they have found in school instruments: pens, love letters, toothbrushes, a fidget spinner,  water bottles, beads, CDs, sheet music, balloons, buttons, even a stuffed monkey.

APS is seeing a resurgence in music education, in part because of a recent influx of young, enthusiastic teachers who are expanding programs in middle and high schools. Also, the district has committed to providing both music and art education in elementary schools.

Of course, that means a need for more musical instruments, so students who find their passion in the early grades can continue to pursue it through middle and high school. 

APS offers band, orchestra and choir in almost all of its middle and high schools as well as guitar classes and mariachi programs in some of its schools.

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