Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: norrina on September 29, 2012, 11:10:06 AM

Title: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70
Post by: norrina on September 29, 2012, 11:10:06 AM
I'm not sure if this is really an etiquette question so much as a "business" one. But I would like input as to (a) whether I am being unreasonable to pursue this in the first place, and (b) what my best course of action is going to be if I do pursue it. It's LONG, sorry!

Backstory
My fiance's son (DSS, for simplicity's sake) started middle school in mid-August. He gets 2 blocks of "related arts" in middle school, his choice of strings, band, PE, and/or a foreign language. He chose band as one of his two blocks, and was assigned the trombone as his instrument. We rented his instrument through the company recommended by the school, and he received his instrument at a Saturday "band starter camp" in mid-Seotember. The first week that he had the instrument passed without incident. Monday of the 2nd week he came home from school and told us that his bus driver told him he couldn't bring his instrument on the bus anymore, only clarinets and flutes.

I am a bit of a Type A personality. Before school even started, I read every document and link on his school's webpage. DF and I attended back-to-school orientation, and I read every piece of paper there. DSS came home from his first day of school with a sheath of papers, and I read all those too. This was the first I'd heard that band instruments wouldn't be allowed on the school bus. Just in case I'd missed something though, I re-read the school's website and all the papers from orientation and that DSS had brought home, and dug through the entirety of the district's website. DF did the same. We still couldn't find a policy regarding band instruments on the school bus. So we figured DSS must have misunderstood something.

Tuesday morning we waited for the bus with DSS, and DF asked the bus driver if she could tell us if there had been a misunderstanding, or if DSS was in fact not permitted to bring his trombone on the bus. She told us violins and violas were the only instruments allowed. We asked if DSS would be able to ride the bus that day since this was the first notice we were receiving from her or the school, and needed to arrange alternate transportation, but our request was refused. She gave a phone number to call, so I called while DF took DSS to school. The number was not for anyone at the school, but was for the bussing company that the school contracts with. The woman I spoke to stated that it is district policy that no instruments are allowed on the bus, but that the school and the company had decided to make an exception for violins and violas. She could not tell me where the policy was posted, or why the parents had not been informed.

The Question
At this point, I am of a mind to call the assistant principal or principal, then possibly the superintendent. I am concerned that DSS was assigned an instrument that he cannot continue playing unless we are able to rearrange our schedules to drop him off and pick him up every day. I am concerned that while we can make these arrangements, other parents in the same boat may not be so lucky. I am concerned that a good number of children are not going to be able to participate in the public achool's free band and strings programs because this restriction on bus riders is going to create a barrier to entry. I am concerned that we were not told of this "policy" until a month into the school year, and then it was through DSS as the messenger. I would like to work with the school and/or district to come up with reasonable alternatives or accommodations for bus riders that want to pursue music. Would it be reasonable for me to take this route? If I do, who do I need to talk to, and what should I say?

Thanks eHellions!
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2012, 11:21:35 AM
I would talk to the principal, making it clear you know he/she is not responsible for the conttact with the bussing company. My guess is that you might need to address the boatd of ed or superintendent.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Acadianna on September 29, 2012, 11:26:47 AM
I would start with your son's band director/teacher, and tell him/her just what the bus driver said.  Ask if this is, indeed, the school or district's policy.

If the answer is, no, not policy -- then you'll need to ask them to straighten this out with the bus driver (who may simply have made it all up) and possibly with the bus company (who may have established a policy they weren't entitled to make).  This part should come from the school, rather than you.

If the answer is, yes, it's the policy -- then I'd ask whether they expect students to practice at home and, if so, how.  Again, the ball should be in the school's court to solve this problem.  I would not be willing to provide alternate transportation for the purpose of carrying band instruments.  That's not fair to parents, expecially to those who aren't able to make other arrangements.

If the band director/teacher isn't helpful, then I'd move up the chain of command to the principal.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: snowdragon on September 29, 2012, 11:39:53 AM
Talk to the school district office.   Bus drivers and companies have been doing this since the dark ages when I went to school - get all the facts from the district office and then go to the school and the bus company again. If this is the case then make sure the principal and band director know what is going on and that this could impact students.   
  I would also look into what sports equipment is aloud on the bus - some schools discriminate against musicians and arts and bend over backwards for athletes, don't let your kid suffer this while other kids are bringing bigger and far more dangerous stuff on the bus. ( Thinking skates and hockey sticks )
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2012, 11:52:48 AM
Do you know if the district has contracted with this company before or is this a new arrangement?
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: kherbert05 on September 29, 2012, 11:59:06 AM
Dollars to Donuts - the bus company made this decision unilaterally (or even this driver doesn't want the "hassle" of instruments and made up the rule off the top of his/her head) and they are hoping parents will just obey. School district lawyers would make sure transportation issues were front and center of paper work, because they don't want to be sued.

Start with the band director, head of Fine Arts, and band booster club (a very powerful group in most districts 2nd only to the Football boosters in most*) I bet your problem will be solved fast. Act puzzled because obviously the school district doesn't have this policy.

*Band is often the last arts group cut from the budget, because you need a marching band for football games.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2012, 12:04:34 PM
Actually, I could easily see something that bad being.in the contract and the districr agreeing to it because on the surface outsourcing looks like such a great way to save money that they don't check some of the particulars.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on September 29, 2012, 12:11:11 PM
Thank you for he thoughts so far.

Sadly, the band director's mother passed away in the past week or two, so I would rather not put this on his plate right now if I can resolve the matter through other channels.

I actually forgot about there being a school attorney. I want to start out friendly and cooperative, but if I don't get anywhere I do have his contact information and I might see if we can have a chat.

This is not a new contract as far as I know. I don't know how long the district has used the company, but I do know that I saw busses with the company's name on them the last 2 school years that we've lived here.

Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Harriet Jones on September 29, 2012, 12:27:11 PM
I guess it depends on how well-funded the band program is, but our middle school owns some of the bulkier instruments that the students can borrow for class, so they can leave their own instrument at home. 
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: kherbert05 on September 29, 2012, 12:30:50 PM
With the Band Director's Mom passing away, you might contact the other arts teachers (Choir if you have it visual or dramatic arts if you don't) and ask them who to contact. The arts often work together, and would know if the best route was building principal, going direct to transportation, or up the district arts department chain.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: SeptGurl on September 29, 2012, 12:55:29 PM
My DS just started band this year, too, with French horn. I know there are bus riders at his school who are carting all sorts of instruments. I have not been told of any instrument restrictions created by the bus company; however, we are in a position that we can pick up/drop off DS. If we weren't, DS would be carting his horn on the bus. It truly chaps my hide that your family and others have been put in this difficult position due to what appears to be lack of communication and/or misunderstanding about policy.

If it were me, given that the band director may be unavailable, I'd probably start with the school principal. If the principal was not able to help directly, I would then go to the district's fine arts administrator. If the busing issue is a problem at the middle-school level, it is likely to be a problem at all levels throughout the district.

What to say? I think you've expressed your concerns very well: "I am concerned that DSS was assigned an instrument that he cannot continue playing unless we are able to rearrange our schedules to drop him off and pick him up every day. I am concerned that while we can make these arrangements, other parents in the same boat may not be so lucky. I am concerned that a good number of children are not going to be able to participate in the public school's free band and strings programs because this restriction on bus riders is going to create a barrier to entry. I am concerned that we were not told of this 'policy' until a month into the school year, and then it was through DSS as the messenger." Then I might add, "Moving forward, how can parents and the school district work together to create alternatives and accommodations for bus riders who want to pursue music?"

You also might consider rallying some other parents to your cause. It may also be helpful to talk with parents of older middle school kids to see how this has been addressed in the past.

I would be very interested in hearing how this turns out. I hope you'll keep us updated!
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: bbgirl on September 29, 2012, 12:56:54 PM
In the district I work, this is often a policy up to the individual bus driver and it quite often depends on how full the bus is during the route driven. I've had my students who play cello not be able to take an instrument back and forth (rarely though) so they've compensated by having a parent pick up their instruments on Friday afternoons in order to get practice time over the weekend. Same with the basses. Some years I've had enough in my inventory to allow them to keep an instrument at home and one at school.  But  a trombone? It's long and fairly skinny so I'm not sure why the student can't hold the instrument upright between their knees while seated.

I guess my advice is to contact the bus company and speak with their director asking them to clarify their reasoning. If that gets you nowhere, go to the district office and speak with them. Last resort, ask the band director for an in class instrument and an at home instrument. Or arrange a Friday pick-up.

It's not ideal, but there are ways to make it work. Perhaps your son could even get his practice time in during the lunch time at school?

At any rate, it stinks but ultimately the bus driver needs to make sure the environment on the bus is safe in transport. Definitely check though to make sure it's a policy being held across the board for any objects over X amount of sizing and that it's not exclusive to instruments.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2012, 01:20:29 PM
I have to disagree with the advice to go to the band/choir director.  These people are in classrooms, they have plenty of responsibilities  and limited authority.  Transportation is usually beyond their scope so the most they would probably be able to do would be to go to the principal and explain that a parent is upset about this situation.  In my experience, it is taken more seriously when they hear from parents directly.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Twik on September 29, 2012, 01:27:01 PM
I have to disagree with the advice to go to the band/choir director.  These people are in classrooms, they have plenty of responsibilities  and limited authority.  Transportation is usually beyond their scope so the most they would probably be able to do would be to go to the principal and explain that a parent is upset about this situation.  In my experience, it is taken more seriously when they hear from parents directly.

I think this is more than "parents are upset". This policy means that the majority of students cannot study their course material.

If the bus company suddenly decided, "no textbooks allowed on the bus", would it not be just as much the teachers' concern as the parents? It is completely negating the ability to learn course material.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2012, 01:29:13 PM
I have to disagree with the advice to go to the band/choir director.  These people are in classrooms, they have plenty of responsibilities  and limited authority.  Transportation is usually beyond their scope so the most they would probably be able to do would be to go to the principal and explain that a parent is upset about this situation.  In my experience, it is taken more seriously when they hear from parents directly.

I think this is more than "parents are upset". This policy means that the majority of students cannot study their course material.

If the bus company suddenly decided, "no textbooks allowed on the bus", would it not be just as much the teachers' concern as the parents? It is completely negating the ability to learn course material.

I get that but what I am saying is that the band director is not in charge of transportation so they probably wouldn't know much nor could they make anybody do much.  There also tends to be more reaction to parents pushing an issue than teachers.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: YummyMummy66 on September 29, 2012, 01:41:48 PM
The school will more than likely not be able to do anything.

If they contract out their buses, then the school is not in charge of buses.  The company who owns them is and they are the ones who have to right to make their own rules.

What I would be questioning is either they have no instruments or they allow all instruments. 
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Oh Joy on September 29, 2012, 01:43:06 PM
In the absence of the middle school band director, there is often another role dedicated to the administration of music education higher up in the district's chain.  It may be the high school band director or a different position, but they oversee the general music program and have an investment in the success of the program and a motivation to reduce barriers.

I would go to them with the tone that I'm seeking clarification in the policy and suggestions to work around it if necessary.

Keep us posted, and best wishes.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: NyaChan on September 29, 2012, 02:08:06 PM
This needs to go to the principal - teachers aren't going to be in the same position to deal with the bus company as the head of the school.  I played the trombone and was allowed to bring my instrument on the bus just like everyone other than those who played instruments so large that the school had simply purchased them and allowed students to use them.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: kherbert05 on September 29, 2012, 02:09:42 PM
I have to disagree with the advice to go to the band/choir director.  These people are in classrooms, they have plenty of responsibilities  and limited authority.  Transportation is usually beyond their scope so the most they would probably be able to do would be to go to the principal and explain that a parent is upset about this situation.  In my experience, it is taken more seriously when they hear from parents directly.


The reason I said go to the director/art people is because they know the politics. They can tell the OP weather to go to the building principal or the head of the arts department. I'm in the classroom, I don't mind fielding who do I complain to questions. Most teachers don't because they know the wrong complaint in the wrong ear can lead to an explosion, while the right complaint in the right ear leads to a solution.


My partner and I have been redirecting complaints since the beginning of school. We are overloaded with 28 and 26 kids in a class. (Law used to be 21, changed last year now a complicated formula). We have told parents that complaining to principal doesn't do any good because it isn't his call and he has been fighting for another teacher since the week before school started. We have directed their very complementary to the school complaints (The teachers/staff are doing a good job but there are too many kids in the room/you might be violating fire code type complaints) to the superintendent, their board member, and the head of elementary ed. According to what I hear - they were surprised at the parental support for the school/demand for a 3rd teacher. They have been interviewing all week, hopefully the position will be filled Monday.


 I also think contacting the other band parents through the booster club is a good idea because the squeaky wheel gets the grease. An organized group insuring fair transportation policy has a better chance of succeeding.


Here transportation is paid for by the state, and you have to go through a detailed procedure to kick trouble makers off the bus. A kid that has done nothing, but bring a school required piece of equipment on board being denied transportation - head would rool.


Growing up the bass players and some percussion were issued 2 instruments one for school and one for home. That was because there was no way to safely fit them on the bus. They blocked the aisle/emergency exits. Due to the way our school was constructed some upper level band and orchestra people could check out keys to access the band and orchestra halls to practice. (those rooms were off in their own wing and those keys were good only for those areas).
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on September 29, 2012, 03:38:40 PM
Responding to a few comments and questions:

I meant to put in the OP, DSS' bus is only 1/2 full at any given time. I don't know how full the other routes are though, so I would like a resolution that will work for all students, if there truly is a space issue on some buses.

The school has a very limited supply of instruments. These instruments are available to families in need, for rent at a rate that is significantly less than a private rental. Due to our finances, we did look into renting through the school rather than a private company, and there are no trombones available at all. So having a school instrument and home instrument isn't an option on a couple different levels.

In 6th grade the students are supposed to be practicing 1/2 an hour every day (in addition to their class time). If the students only bring their instrument home on the weekends, they end up trying to fit 3 1/2 hours of practice into 2 days, followed by a 5 day break. I'm not sure that this schedule would really lend itself to any level of proficiency, although it is of course better than no practice at all.

DSS' lunch break is 22 minutes, followed by a 22 minute recess. With only 44 minutes break total, there really isn't time for him to practice, stand in the lunch line, and eat. I guess he could practice for 22 minutes during recess, but I think that he may be finishing lunch during recess some days already, if the lunch line is particularly long or slow. I know that a NY school provided a late bus and practice space at the school for students who wanted to practice after school. That seems like a lot of extra expense in bussing though, so I don't know if that would be a reasonable alternative for DSS' school or district.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Twik on September 29, 2012, 05:40:09 PM
The school will more than likely not be able to do anything.

If they contract out their buses, then the school is not in charge of buses.  The company who owns them is and they are the ones who have to right to make their own rules.
 

I doubt that the company who owns the busses will be running them for the school board next year if they forbid children from taking things necessary to their education on the bus with them. This is not a trivial thing. To me, it is no different than if, after getting a contract to carry school children, the bus company announced that it was not allowing knapsacks or bookbags. If the children can't take their books to and from classes, that's not their problem, right?
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: JanaL on September 29, 2012, 07:14:06 PM
Former high school band director here.  We had this issue in my district, too. 

Ask the band director if there's a trombone at school your child can use or rent for a low fee for rehearsals.  Your child can bring his mouthpiece back and forth in a backpack easily, and keep your rental trombone at home.  You might even be able to rent another trombone from the same music store and negotiate a lower rate for this purpose.  If your child is uber-forgetful, you could even buy a mouthpiece for school- they're around $35- not too bad and last forever.

PLEASE talk to your band director.  He/She WILL want to hear about this problem, and will NOT want to lose a trombonist over such a bus issue.  This is a problem for a lot of school districts, which are frequently solved by kids sharing instruments at school between multiple bands(if bands rehearse at different times) so kids can keep the rental at home.  Trust me, your band director will want your child to have an instrument at home to practice, too.   PLEASE don't give up!  Help your child find a creative solution
to this issue- the social and cognitive benefits of playing a musical instrument are really worth it, I promise!   8)



Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: JanaL on September 29, 2012, 07:24:24 PM
Oh, and I forgot:  there are now plastic trombones that are actually decent sounding and fairly inexpensive, as far as bones go ($160) that may be useful for practice purposes.  Here's an example of a trombonist from the Canadian Brass (a very reputable group) demonstrating one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=141E9kYdkL8

It's called the Jiggs pBone. 

The tone quality isn't exactly the same as a brass one so it's not great for blending in band performances, but it's lightweight, relatively inexpensive, and may be a solution to this problem to provide a practice trombone at home. 

   
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Acadianna on September 29, 2012, 08:01:53 PM
I have to disagree with the advice to go to the band/choir director.  These people are in classrooms, they have plenty of responsibilities  and limited authority.  Transportation is usually beyond their scope so the most they would probably be able to do would be to go to the principal and explain that a parent is upset about this situation.  In my experience, it is taken more seriously when they hear from parents directly.

The reason I said go to the director/art people is because they know the politics. They can tell the OP weather to go to the building principal or the head of the arts department. I'm in the classroom, I don't mind fielding who do I complain to questions. Most teachers don't because they know the wrong complaint in the wrong ear can lead to an explosion, while the right complaint in the right ear leads to a solution.

What Kherbert said, but also -- if this is really a district/bus company policy -- then it will be up to the band teacher (not the principal) to figure out how students will practice at home without bringing home their instruments.  Otherwise, the band teacher can gather all the complaints (and I'm sure there are or will be many others about this issue) and present the problem to the principal all at once.

Like Kherbert, I'm also a teacher, and I never mind receiving complaints of any kind from my parents.  If I can fix the problem myself, I certainly will, but if not then I can easily refer them to the appropriate staff person.  (In special ed, this happens a lot, as the parents are very used to dealing mainly with the sped case manager.  We get it all, from bad test grades to conflicts with other students to lost hoodies they want me to track down.  I even get calls from parents whose students have moved on to other case managers!)
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: proudmama on September 29, 2012, 08:29:09 PM
This needs to go to the principal - teachers aren't going to be in the same position to deal with the bus company as the head of the school.  I played the trombone and was allowed to bring my instrument on the bus just like everyone other than those who played instruments so large that the school had simply purchased them and allowed students to use them.

Our school district also purchased the large instruments, like cellos, for use during lessons at school.  The students must bring their own to performances.  My DS plays the violin.  Never an issue on the bus.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on September 29, 2012, 08:43:20 PM
A lot of posters have suggested seeing if there is a trombone at school that DSS can use there. I don't think the school is going to have one, but I will definitely talk to the band director to see if I am mistaken about that, or if as one poster suggested perhaps DSS and another student in a different class can share an instrument at school. I do still want to give the director some time to grieve the loss of his mother, so that might be a good conversation to have if brainstorming with the principal/superintendent/director of the school board does not prove fruitful.

Unfortunately, I don't think it is going to be financially feasible for us to buy him a plastic practice trombone, or to rent a second instrument. But we are able to drop him off and pick him up, so he doesn't actually need a second instrument. I am trying to come to a resolution more for the sake of all the children, and the convenience that it would provide if we didn't have to transport every day is an added bonus.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: JanaL on September 29, 2012, 09:00:33 PM
I do still want to give the director some time to grieve the loss of his mother, so that might be a good conversation to have if brainstorming with the principal/superintendent/director of the school board does not prove fruitful.
(*snip*)
 I am trying to come to a resolution more for the sake of all the children, and the convenience that it would provide if we didn't have to transport every day is an added bonus.

I understand that the band director is currently in mourning, but I would not recommend that you go to the principal/superintendent levels for the sake of all the children without their knowledge or input- I think that will put the band director in a very awkward position if you do this without him.  Besides- when you go to the principal/superintendent, I think the first thing they're going to ask you is, "Did you talk to the teacher?  What did they say?" 

I think it's better to talk with the band director (when he comes back) about your plans to intervene "on behalf of all children."  He may be grateful to have you as an ally, and may have some deeper insight into this problem, along with the inability to say what may need to be said to solve this problem to the powers that be without getting reprimanded.  I really hope you'll talk to the band director about your plans first.  I hope this perspective may be helpful. 
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Sharnita on September 29, 2012, 09:11:03 PM
I do still want to give the director some time to grieve the loss of his mother, so that might be a good conversation to have if brainstorming with the principal/superintendent/director of the school board does not prove fruitful.
(*snip*)
 I am trying to come to a resolution more for the sake of all the children, and the convenience that it would provide if we didn't have to transport every day is an added bonus.

I understand that the band director is currently in mourning, but I would not recommend that you go to the principal/superintendent levels for the sake of all the children without their knowledge or input- I think that will put the band director in a very awkward position if you do this without him.  Besides- when you go to the principal/superintendent, I think the first thing they're going to ask you is, "Did you talk to the teacher?  What did they say?" 

I think it's better to talk with the band director (when he comes back) about your plans to intervene "on behalf of all children."  He may be grateful to have you as an ally, and may have some deeper insight into this problem, along with the inability to say what may need to be said to solve this problem to the powers that be without getting reprimanded.  I really hope you'll talk to the band director about your plans first.  I hope this perspective may be helpful.

I don't think it puts the band director in an awkward position at all.  It is a bussing problem, not a classroom problem.  It doesn't even happen during school hours but after school is over.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: starry diadem on September 30, 2012, 02:05:09 AM
Surely a key issue to address is the inconsistency?  If there's a policy of no instruments, why is the bus company making an exception for violins and violas?  That's already creating a sort of hierarchy, where some instruments are acceptable and some not.  The whole thing is a mess of half-baked policies being applied inconsistently, putting some children at a disadvantage.

I'd echo an earlier poster who asked if there was a similar ban on sports equipment being carried.  It's important this is approached as a matter of educational expectations  *and* one of equitable treatment.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on September 30, 2012, 10:08:27 AM
I do still want to give the director some time to grieve the loss of his mother, so that might be a good conversation to have if brainstorming with the principal/superintendent/director of the school board does not prove fruitful.
(*snip*)
 I am trying to come to a resolution more for the sake of all the children, and the convenience that it would provide if we didn't have to transport every day is an added bonus.

I understand that the band director is currently in mourning, but I would not recommend that you go to the principal/superintendent levels for the sake of all the children without their knowledge or input- I think that will put the band director in a very awkward position if you do this without him.  Besides- when you go to the principal/superintendent, I think the first thing they're going to ask you is, "Did you talk to the teacher?  What did they say?" 

I think it's better to talk with the band director (when he comes back) about your plans to intervene "on behalf of all children."  He may be grateful to have you as an ally, and may have some deeper insight into this problem, along with the inability to say what may need to be said to solve this problem to the powers that be without getting reprimanded.  I really hope you'll talk to the band director about your plans first.  I hope this perspective may be helpful.

I don't think it puts the band director in an awkward position at all.  It is a bussing problem, not a classroom problem.  It doesn't even happen during school hours but after school is over.

I'm thinking the same thing as Sharnita. I really feel like this is a problem that needs to be addressed at the level of whoever made and/or can change the "policy". If I cannot get the "policy" changed so that all children can bring their instruments on the busses, then I will want to work with the band director to see what other solutions we might be able to come up with. Ideally though, the school/district/bus company/whoever would realize that the policy of excluding instruments on the bus hurts the children, and would reconsider. Any other workarounds that I can think of are feasible, but less than ideal.

And so on, and so forth. None of the possible alternatives are altogether unreasonable, they just aren't ideal. So I would like to save going that route until I've exhausted the possibility of instruments being allowed on the bus.

Now, I can see that the band director might have insight as to who I need to talk to, and/or what I need to say, to effect change. I can't imagine that me talking to anyone without going through the band director is going to get him reprimanded though, he has nothing to do with transportation issues! If he's back at school on Monday, maybe I can talk to him. If he continues to be out though, I really don't want to delay getting started on fixing this situation. Every day that the problem isn't resolved is another day that we have to transport DSS and his instrument, and that other students may not be able to practice at all because they don't have transportation.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Oh Joy on September 30, 2012, 10:45:55 AM
Now, I can see that the band director might have insight as to who I need to talk to, and/or what I need to say, to effect change. I can't imagine that me talking to anyone without going through the band director is going to get him reprimanded though, he has nothing to do with transportation issues! If he's back at school on Monday, maybe I can talk to him. If he continues to be out though, I really don't want to delay getting started on fixing this situation. Every day that the problem isn't resolved is another day that we have to transport DSS and his instrument, and that other students may not be able to practice at all because they don't have transportation.

(Intending this as reassuring, not dismissive) It's very unlikely that this is the first time instruments on the bus have been addressed, and others have been participating in the music program with medium and large instruments.  I wouldn't worry too much about all of the alternative options until I spoke with someone in the music department who knows what all of the other bus-riding trombonists have done over the years.

Hang in there!   :)
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Slartibartfast on September 30, 2012, 10:56:10 AM
Is there an orchestra director?  He/she could give you the same information the band director would, has the same problem (students not being able to practice), and doesn't have the personal life issues standing in the way.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: stkatie00 on September 30, 2012, 01:08:48 PM
Does the band director also conduct the orchestra? If not, I'd give the orchestra conductor a heads up that you're going to talk to the administration about this. It affects the string players too, after all.

In other words, what Slarti said. :)
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: TheaterDiva1 on September 30, 2012, 01:16:45 PM
Re-reading the OP - am I the only one bothered by the fact that the kid was "assigned" the trombone?  In my band days, each kid chose their own instrument upon signing up.  The school has to help out if they assigned an instrument knowing he has no way of bringing it home.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: andjoshtoo on September 30, 2012, 01:29:08 PM
My son plays trumpet in the HS band. Last year, when he was in 8th grade, they(the bus drivers) pulled this "No instrument on the bus" deal with them. I chatted with the band director and he encouraged me to call the board office with it.

Coincidentally, this decree came after football season, when the players often cart their equipment to and from school. I mentioned this when I talked with our school lawyer. Her response was that the bus drivers said that the instruments were a hazard due to their hard cases. I responded with band was a graded class that required instruments and football/other sports were not graded and yet, they could bring everything and anything they needed. Response to that? Their duffel bags were soft.(!)

She said we, the parents, were responsible for getting the instruments to and from school. If we wanted, she said, we could leave the instruments in the band room, although she couldn't promise they'd be safe. She also suggested buying/renting a second to keep at home.  I then suggested since band was actually a grade, that they(the district) should supply the transportation(IE a band bus) to the kids this rule affected. She literally LOL'd and asked where the money for that would come from. Wrong question to ask me!

Long story short, after a few weeks of being squeaky, my son got permission to bring his trumpet on the bus. I met with his bus driver and this principal and made sure they both knew. They did. I also let the other parents know who I talked to, what I said, and how the issue was resolved. In the end, this rule has all but disappeared. They modified it to say large instruments are not allowed on the bus.(basically, drum sets and key boards) Instruments that typically weren't brought on the bus anyways.

Anne

Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on September 30, 2012, 02:25:46 PM
DSS' band director is over the entire district's band and strings programs for grades 5-8. It looks like there are other instructors at the HS level, but I haven't been able to figure out if there is someone over the entire music program at that level.

Students have the options of picking up strings in grade 5, then of doing strings and/or band in grades 6-8. At the high school level, there's chorus, steel drums, etc. depending on the school.

DSS played violin in 5th grade. He decided he wanted to change instruments in 6th grade. Apparently he was "assigned" the trombone because when they practiced that was the instrument he was best at. He is excited about his instrument, so while we did think it was a bit off that he was "assigned" it without any parental input, ultimately it wasn't worth making an issue of since he was happy.

Responding directly to andjoshtoo's experience, if the school/district/board/band director/etc. cannot or will not work with us to find a reasonable resolution to this problem, I am not above pulling out Right to Education and Accessibility issues with the prohibition of instruments on the bus when instruments are required for a graded school subject. I would really like to reserve that tactic as a last resort though.

Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Jelaza on September 30, 2012, 02:34:32 PM
Re-reading the OP - am I the only one bothered by the fact that the kid was "assigned" the trombone?  In my band days, each kid chose their own instrument upon signing up.  The school has to help out if they assigned an instrument knowing he has no way of bringing it home.

Depends on how the "assigning" process works.  When I signed up for band, I expressed interest in both trumpet and trombone, and they had me try out both instruments, and I was assigned trombone with the explanation that the trombone mouthpiece seemed more comfortable for me to use than the trumpet one.  Could be that the OP's child had the some sort of experience.

Edit: Or, what norrina said
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: SPuck on September 30, 2012, 03:53:56 PM
Responding directly to andjoshtoo's experience, if the school/district/board/band director/etc. cannot or will not work with us to find a reasonable resolution to this problem, I am not above pulling out Right to Education and Accessibility issues with the prohibition of instruments on the bus when instruments are required for a graded school subject. I would really like to reserve that tactic as a last resort though.

Well, since you seem aware of your local laws and ordinances. I'd go in with a spine of steel, and use them to your advantage from the beginning. Schools will stall, whether middle, high school, or college, if you let them. The last thing you need is to dance around the issue and half of the year to pass if you take "sweet" stances.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on September 30, 2012, 05:32:19 PM
Responding directly to andjoshtoo's experience, if the school/district/board/band director/etc. cannot or will not work with us to find a reasonable resolution to this problem, I am not above pulling out Right to Education and Accessibility issues with the prohibition of instruments on the bus when instruments are required for a graded school subject. I would really like to reserve that tactic as a last resort though.

Well, since you seem aware of your local laws and ordinances. I'd go in with a spine of steel, and use them to your advantage from the beginning. Schools will stall, whether middle, high school, or college, if you let them. The last thing you need is to dance around the issue and half of the year to pass if you take "sweet" stances.

I don't necessarily have an iron clad legal argument, because the school's most likely counter-argument would be that they are meeting the minimum standard by transporting the children. There doesn't appear to be any precedent regarding the question in my state, so if this were to actually go to court, it could come down either way. People tend to clam up when you threaten them with legal action, so, I'm going to go in trying to get more flies with honey.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on October 01, 2012, 08:28:02 AM
Mini-Update:
I called the school's Asst. Principal this morning. I told him who I was, and that DSS was in band this year and assigned the trombone, and that he came home last week and told us his bus driver told him he could not bring his trombone on the bus. I let him know that DF and I spoke with the bus driver the next morning, and that she confirmed that she was not allowing instruments other than violin and viola on the bus, and that I had then spoken with the bussing company and they told me it was a school district policy. I said that I would first like to confirm that it was in fact a policy, and that if it was a policy I was concerned about the impediment to participating in music that it presented to the children. The AP had never heard of this policy before, and was very understanding of my concerns. He is going to make some phone calls, and look on the internet for a policy (I'm pretty confident it isn't there, unless it's behind some password protected link), and call me back.

So, nothing is resolved at this point, but I feel good that the AP is looking into and that he appreciates my concerns.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: DaisyG on October 01, 2012, 08:30:18 AM
What strikes me as odd in this situation is that an exception is being made for violins and violas.

It seems odd that a violin would be allowed when another instrument of a similar or smaller size would be banned and I would question the bus company about this. I would guess that a trombone case and a full-size violin case are a similar size, the trombone case may be a bit longer but a bit slimmer. Maybe your DSS would like to measure this to prove a point?

I hope you can get this resolved.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: norrina on October 01, 2012, 08:43:41 AM
What strikes me as odd in this situation is that an exception is being made for violins and violas.

It seems odd that a violin would be allowed when another instrument of a similar or smaller size would be banned and I would question the bus company about this. I would guess that a trombone case and a full-size violin case are a similar size, the trombone case may be a bit longer but a bit slimmer. Maybe your DSS would like to measure this to prove a point?

I hope you can get this resolved.

My youngest brother actually plays violin and viola professionally, and the first thing I did when this came up was asked him about the size difference between a viola and trombone case. He said that a trombone case is much longer.

In looking at the policies of some other districts, a district adjacent to ours requires the student's instrument to fit on his/her lap, and some districts in other states require the student to be able to "control" his/her instrument. To me, the control requirement makes sense, but the lap requirement does not, because DSS could place the trombone upright on the floor, held between his knees, and it would present no more of a safety issue that if it was on his lap, because he can control it. I also doubt that the students are all holding their backpacks on their lap; I know when I was in school we threw them on the floor. If need be though, he could put the trombone on his lap, it would just be stick up about a foot above his head.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: magiccat26 on October 01, 2012, 08:47:22 AM
Our bus policy actually mentions instruments and "projects".  The policy is that anything that cannot be held in the student's lap (in other words it cannot take up seat space) cannot be brought on the bus and parents are encouraged to find alternate transportation for these items.

With that said, when I was in school, they actually had bins at the back of the bus for instruments.  I wonder if that could be a compromise?
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: artk2002 on October 01, 2012, 09:10:54 AM
What strikes me as odd in this situation is that an exception is being made for violins and violas.

It seems odd that a violin would be allowed when another instrument of a similar or smaller size would be banned and I would question the bus company about this. I would guess that a trombone case and a full-size violin case are a similar size, the trombone case may be a bit longer but a bit slimmer. Maybe your DSS would like to measure this to prove a point?

I hope you can get this resolved.

As someone pointed out, a violin or viola case is a lot shorter than a trombone case (trombone case is about 4' long, where a violin is less than 3'.) I'd be interested in knowing what the driver would do with a flute, oboe, piccolo, alto saxophone, clarinet or trumpet. Any of those will have a smaller case than a violin.

School busses normally have cargo space underneath -- it would be a pain for the driver, but the "it won't fit" argument doesn't work in light of that.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus
Post by: Yvaine on October 01, 2012, 09:19:51 AM
What strikes me as odd in this situation is that an exception is being made for violins and violas.

It seems odd that a violin would be allowed when another instrument of a similar or smaller size would be banned and I would question the bus company about this. I would guess that a trombone case and a full-size violin case are a similar size, the trombone case may be a bit longer but a bit slimmer. Maybe your DSS would like to measure this to prove a point?

I hope you can get this resolved.

As someone pointed out, a violin or viola case is a lot shorter than a trombone case (trombone case is about 4' long, where a violin is less than 3'.) I'd be interested in knowing what the driver would do with a flute, oboe, piccolo, alto saxophone, clarinet or trumpet. Any of those will have a smaller case than a violin.

School busses normally have cargo space underneath -- it would be a pain for the driver, but the "it won't fit" argument doesn't work in light of that.

Agreed. Picking violins and violas only seems like it's favoring not smaller instruments, but instruments considered more "highbrow," which is just silly.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Girlie on October 01, 2012, 01:48:35 PM
First - congrats on your son being given such a wonderful instrument! I love the trombone. I don't play, but my DH does, and it's wonderful!

Second - I just wanted to chime in and say that when we were in school. the policy was that band students had to be able to fit their instruments in their laps to take them on the bus during the week, and they were allowed to take them on weekends if they could fit under the seats. They were not allowed to take seat space, however.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 01, 2012, 02:07:00 PM
First - congrats on your son being given such a wonderful instrument! I love the trombone. I don't play, but my DH does, and it's wonderful!

Second - I just wanted to chime in and say that when we were in school. the policy was that band students had to be able to fit their instruments in their laps to take them on the bus during the week, and they were allowed to take them on weekends if they could fit under the seats. They were not allowed to take seat space, however.

Why were they allowed to transport them under the seats on Fridays, but not Monday-Thursday?
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Girlie on October 01, 2012, 02:16:23 PM
I think it was considered a compromise between the band parents and the transportation department. They were allowed to bring the larger instruments home then because they didn't get class time with them. Of course, I don't know how that worked out with the other high school in our district that didn't have hourly scheduling like we did (so that you went to every class every day). They had a block schedule, so they had days when they didn't have band practice during the week. I don't know if they treated them differently.  :-\
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Virg on October 01, 2012, 03:02:46 PM
Yvaine wrote:

"Agreed. Picking violins and violas only seems like it's favoring not smaller instruments, but instruments considered more "highbrow," which is just silly."

My guess isn't that they favor violins, just that that's the instrument they chose for rule of thumb, and I'd bet that any instrument that's smaller and lighter than a violin would be allowed on the bus (except oboes, which as we all know shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children who might be tempted to play them).  Besides, I've seen cell phones larger than a piccolo case, so you could avoid that argument by putting it in your backpack.

artk2002 wrote:

"School busses normally have cargo space underneath -- it would be a pain for the driver, but the "it won't fit" argument doesn't work in light of that."

Maybe your busses are different from the ones I've seen, but I've never seen a standard yellow school bus with underside cargo space, unless you mean the space under the seats.

norrina wrote:

"To me, the control requirement makes sense, but the lap requirement does not, because DSS could place the trombone upright on the floor, held between his knees, and it would present no more of a safety issue that if it was on his lap, because he can control it. I also doubt that the students are all holding their backpacks on their lap; I know when I was in school we threw them on the floor. If need be though, he could put the trombone on his lap, it would just be stick up about a foot above his head."

This is a tough call, because the issue of control is more than just keeping it under control under normal circumstances.  I agree he could hold a trombone case in his lap for a normal ride, but I seriously doubt his ability to control it if the bus went off the road and it could seriously injure him or others in that case (sorry about that pun) where a smaller or lighter instrument would be easier to hang on to.  Moreover, in an accident, a four foot rigid case is much more likely to block egress than a backpack which is generally soft and rarely more than two feet to a side, so again I see the reason why there's a restriction in the first place.  The best solution would be a cage (which someone mentioned earlier as bins in the back of the bus) or bus seat legs that are designed to allow the case to slide under the seat for travel.

Virg
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: artk2002 on October 01, 2012, 03:36:38 PM
artk2002 wrote:

"School busses normally have cargo space underneath -- it would be a pain for the driver, but the "it won't fit" argument doesn't work in light of that."

Maybe your busses are different from the ones I've seen, but I've never seen a standard yellow school bus with underside cargo space, unless you mean the space under the seats.

They may be different, but I'm talking about the yellow busses that I've seen. There's a row of doors along the side right at the bottom on the ones that I've seen.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Sirius on October 01, 2012, 03:45:42 PM
Only violins and violas are allowed on the bus?  That's strange.  What about piccolos and flutes, and clarinets, all of which take up less room?  While I could see having issues about sousaphones, tubas, and double basses on a school bus, only allowing stringed instruments is ridiculous. 

Edited to add:  I've got a larger clarinet case than most (mine is about the size of a brief case) and I never had issues with it being too big for a school bus. 
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 01, 2012, 04:07:52 PM
Norrina wrote:

"To me, the control requirement makes sense, but the lap requirement does not, because DSS could place the trombone upright on the floor, held between his knees, and it would present no more of a safety issue that if it was on his lap, because he can control it. I also doubt that the students are all holding their backpacks on their lap; I know when I was in school we threw them on the floor. If need be though, he could put the trombone on his lap, it would just be stick up about a foot above his head."

This is a tough call, because the issue of control is more than just keeping it under control under normal circumstances.  I agree he could hold a trombone case in his lap for a normal ride, but I seriously doubt his ability to control it if the bus went off the road and it could seriously injure him or others in that case (sorry about that pun) where a smaller or lighter instrument would be easier to hang on to.  Moreover, in an accident, a four foot rigid case is much more likely to block egress than a backpack which is generally soft and rarely more than two feet to a side, so again I see the reason why there's a restriction in the first place.  The best solution would be a cage (which someone mentioned earlier as bins in the back of the bus) or bus seat legs that are designed to allow the case to slide under the seat for travel.

Virg

Except that this particular bus driver and the bussing company are allowing violins and violas, so if it is a safety issue, a trombone case is not any harder to control than a viola, and both cases are hard side (so is a backpack, when it's packed full of 20 pounds of books...).  In at least one school district with the "control" restriction on instruments, there was a list of what instruments a student was deemed able to control, depending on grade level. A 6th grade was deemed able to control a trombone.

I don't like the instrument restriction at all, because of the impediment to music study that it presents. If there is a rational basis in safety though, I could respect that. I cannot conceive of any rational safety basis for allowing a viola but not a trombone. And there are instruments significantly smaller than a violin but still too large to "hide" in a backpack, for instance, a trumpet, that are presumably disallowed because they are not excepted from the exclusion. It seems very arbitrary to me.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Sharnita on October 01, 2012, 04:12:04 PM
I believe in the OP the driver said clarinets and flutes were allowed.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 01, 2012, 04:36:47 PM
I believe in the OP the driver said clarinets and flutes were allowed.

DSS said he was told only clarinets and flutes. When I called the bussing company, they told me only violins and violas, but I presume a clarinet or flute could be "smuggled" aboard in a backpack and thus never be an issue as long as it wasn't discovered.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: artk2002 on October 01, 2012, 05:48:11 PM
I believe in the OP the driver said clarinets and flutes were allowed.

DSS said he was told only clarinets and flutes. When I called the bussing company, they told me only violins and violas, but I presume a clarinet or flute could be "smuggled" aboard in a backpack and thus never be an issue as long as it wasn't discovered.

Sounds like someone said "about the size of a violin or viola" or "about the size of a clarinet and flute" and some less-than-intelligent people took those to be the only things allowed.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Dindrane on October 01, 2012, 09:55:54 PM
Personally, I can't imagine taking any instrument larger than about a violin on the bus every day. I played the cello starting in sixth grade, and I don't think I ever took it on the bus with me. On the rare occasions that I needed it while at school, I'm pretty sure my parents arranged to drop me off and pick me up. Granted, the bus I rode was packed as full as legally allowed, so there'd have been no room.

In the 7 years that I was in public school orchestras, though, I never knew one that didn't have "stock" cellos and basses. I think they had a similar set-up for the larger band instruments (although I never paid much attention to those). The instruments available for my use were kind of terrible, but they were good enough to play on in class, and I had my own instrument at home for practicing and performances.

I would say that, in all honesty, the only long-term solution for any music program is to ensure that all instruments are either transportable on the bus, or supplied by the school for use during class. Other ways of arranging music education just makes it much harder for some students to actually participate (and means that you'll have an even larger flood of people who really want to play the flute or the violin).
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 01, 2012, 10:29:00 PM
Personally, I can't imagine taking any instrument larger than about a violin on the bus every day. I played the cello starting in sixth grade, and I don't think I ever took it on the bus with me. On the rare occasions that I needed it while at school, I'm pretty sure my parents arranged to drop me off and pick me up. Granted, the bus I rode was packed as full as legally allowed, so there'd have been no room.

In the 7 years that I was in public school orchestras, though, I never knew one that didn't have "stock" cellos and basses. I think they had a similar set-up for the larger band instruments (although I never paid much attention to those). The instruments available for my use were kind of terrible, but they were good enough to play on in class, and I had my own instrument at home for practicing and performances.

I would say that, in all honesty, the only long-term solution for any music program is to ensure that all instruments are either transportable on the bus, or supplied by the school for use during class. Other ways of arranging music education just makes it much harder for some students to actually participate (and means that you'll have an even larger flood of people who really want to play the flute or the violin).

The school does of course have stock percussion equipment, but I don't know if they have cellos, basses or tubas. DSS' trombone really isn't difficult to transport though. He can carry it easily with one hand, and it fits in the front seat, back seat, or trunk of my sedan. I imagine this is also true of trumpets, basoons, oboes, french horns, probably even a saxaphone. The same cannot be said for cellos, basses, and tubas.

DSS has band class every day. He is expected to have his instrument for class, and must complete an in-class vocabulary assignment if he does not have his instrument. Individual playing tests are given weekly. He is to practice a minimum of 20 minutes/day, 5 days/week, and his practice time is to be recorded on a practice sheet and signed off on by a parent. If he is unable to practice one day due to an unavoidable conflict he may make the time up another day, but "equally distributed practice time is best to promote success." (This is all directly from his band handbook.)

So DSS really needs to be able to bring his instrument back and forth to school every day to really be in full compliance with class expectations. Additionally, the handbook notes that instruments kept in the band room are there at the students own risk, and "Instruments should be taken home at the end of EVERY day." (Emphasis in the original.)
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: guihong on October 02, 2012, 06:37:37 AM
My son plays the trombone in his middle school band.  The teacher doesn't have illusions that they are going to practice during the week (what about kids in apartments?), and so he leaves his instrument in the band room and brings it home on Fridays.  It just seems as if the band teacher has you in a no-win situation.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: camlan on October 02, 2012, 07:07:43 AM


The school does of course have stock percussion equipment, but I don't know if they have cellos, basses or tubas. DSS' trombone really isn't difficult to transport though. He can carry it easily with one hand, and it fits in the front seat, back seat, or trunk of my sedan. I imagine this is also true of trumpets, basoons, oboes, french horns, probably even a saxaphone. The same cannot be said for cellos, basses, and tubas.

DSS has band class every day. He is expected to have his instrument for class, and must complete an in-class vocabulary assignment if he does not have his instrument. Individual playing tests are given weekly. He is to practice a minimum of 20 minutes/day, 5 days/week, and his practice time is to be recorded on a practice sheet and signed off on by a parent. If he is unable to practice one day due to an unavoidable conflict he may make the time up another day, but "equally distributed practice time is best to promote success." (This is all directly from his band handbook.)

So DSS really needs to be able to bring his instrument back and forth to school every day to really be in full compliance with class expectations. Additionally, the handbook notes that instruments kept in the band room are there at the students own risk, and "Instruments should be taken home at the end of EVERY day." (Emphasis in the original.)

I'd play up the conflict between the bus company's policy and the fact that instruments aren't safe if they are kept at school. When you bring the matter up to the principal, ask for specifics on how parents are supposed to handle a situation where the instruments can't be taken back and forth to school, can't be kept at school, and daily practice at home is required.

A lot of parents can't take their kids back and forth to school daily. A lot of parents can't afford to buy or rent two instruments, especially if there's a chance that one of them might be stolen if left at school.

It's up to the school officials and the bus company to sort this out. They need to take the parents and the kids out of the middle of this mess.

The bus company could modify their policy, or it could be that the policy is someone's wishful thinking and not really a rule. The school could accept the fact that they can't have a band or orchestra until they find a bus company willing to work with them, or they can buy enough instruments that can be kept securely at school for student use, or they can negotiate with the bus company.

This is not an issue that should be costing the parents time or money.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Brockwest on October 02, 2012, 07:27:43 AM
You may want to advise the school that theft of band instruments, in particular metal instruments has become the norm, so it is unsafe to leave the instument at school. (Thieves are selling them for scrap metal.) In our area, schools are coming in on Monday and finding all metal instruments stolen over the week-end.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 02, 2012, 08:26:09 AM
My son plays the trombone in his middle school band.  The teacher doesn't have illusions that they are going to practice during the week (what about kids in apartments?), and so he leaves his instrument in the band room and brings it home on Fridays.  It just seems as if the band teacher has you in a no-win situation.

Maybe not all students practice daily, but DSS did last year with violin, and will this year with the trombone once they start learning notes. We feel that it is the only way that he is really going to progress, weekend-only practices are not consistent enough for the progress to really build on itself. It hardly seems fair if the district were to justify a policy hindering everyday practice on the grounds that some students aren't practicing daily anyhow.

We do live in an apartment, so we have DSS practice as quietly as possible, and not after 8:00 at night. Most of the time, if he is practicing in his bedroom, WE cant hear him downstairs unless we strain our ears. If it ever became a problem noise-wise though we would get get him some pracrice mutes. His drum set is only played on the weekends, or during weekdays if we know our neighbors aren't home (we have an end unit, so only one set of neighbors), but if he was actually taking percussion lessons we would get him practice pads for daily practice. Conversely, when DSS was littler, DF would play him a bedtime song on his guitar every night, at around 8:30, and it was never a problem because a guitar can be played so quietly.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 02, 2012, 08:32:32 AM
@Camlan and Brockwest: Now that I've really clicked into the possibility of a theft issue, I will definitely bring it up if the bussing company won't budge on their position. I hadn't really noticed that before because I was reading the handbook for information specifically about bussing, and DSS actually left his instrument in the band room last week because he was sent home vomiting and didn't feel well enough to go retrieve it. Now that I know that the band room isn't necessarily secure, if such a thing happens again I'll go retrieve it myself. (Or ask someone from the front office to do so if they don't want me in the hallways without clearance.)
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Jones on October 02, 2012, 08:37:47 AM
Norrina, can I just say I LOVE how musical your family seems to be?

Although my sibs and I all had piano lessons, my parents were both non-musical and only one of my brothers was allowed non-piano music lessons. I realize it's a difficult situation you are in right now with the bussing rules, but giving DSS access to violin, trombone and drums, not to mention quiet guitar music at night...this is something that's going to pay back in a good way later in his life. Maybe he'll have a job in music, maybe not, but the discipline, concentration and finger strength will stick with him in future endeavors.

As for the bus situation, seeing how you are dealing with it (calling authorities, waiting, keeping calm, searching for answers for everyone and not just yourselves) is teaching him a different sort of discipline, to wait until answers are obtained instead of turning to Step 1: Freaking Out. Kudos to you!
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 02, 2012, 08:53:47 AM
Norrina, can I just say I LOVE how musical your family seems to be?

Although my sibs and I all had piano lessons, my parents were both non-musical and only one of my brothers was allowed non-piano music lessons. I realize it's a difficult situation you are in right now with the bussing rules, but giving DSS access to violin, trombone and drums, not to mention quiet guitar music at night...this is something that's going to pay back in a good way later in his life. Maybe he'll have a job in music, maybe not, but the discipline, concentration and finger strength will stick with him in future endeavors.

As for the bus situation, seeing how you are dealing with it (calling authorities, waiting, keeping calm, searching for answers for everyone and not just yourselves) is teaching him a different sort of discipline, to wait until answers are obtained instead of turning to Step 1: Freaking Out. Kudos to you!

All my family except me. :-( My youngest brother ended up with the most skill, he started violin at 4, went to a boarding HS for the arts, and plays in a small professional orchestra now. My middle brother took piano as a child, but never really excelled at it. My dad used to play violin (I haven't heard him play since now 22 y.o. DYB was practicing as a young boy), and worked in a violin shop when I was a baby. My mom used to play guitar and apparently was in a band as a teenager, but she sold her guitar when I was a child, and I don't think I ever heard her play. Then DF taught himself guitar when he was about 12, and his dream is to one day have a music room in the house. And DSS has taken violin and now trombone, he plays around on the drums, and over the summer DF taught him a little guitar (which he picked up right away and played a Guitar Hero song, but I don't remember which one now). He's a little sponge, he can hear a song once and sing it word for word the next time he hears it.

I never got music lessons as a child, largely because the money wasn't there (my middle brother is 5 1/2 years younger, and my youngest brother 11 years, so my parents were in a better place financially as they grew up), but possibly also because I didn't show the same potential. I found that playing Guitar Hero now has really helped my rhythmicity though, and understanding how the parts of music go together. I think I would have had a different understanding of the world around me as a whole if I had had musical training as a child, and I'm really glad that DSS is getting that opportunity.   

I actually tend towards being a bit of a hothead, so I'm working very hard at staying calm and polite and going through all the proper channels here. I think it is actually helping that while this is a nuisance for us, it isn't meaning DSS can't continue playing, so I really am moving forward for the benefit of the other children, and that makes it less personal.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: Dindrane on October 02, 2012, 09:51:17 AM
The school does of course have stock percussion equipment, but I don't know if they have cellos, basses or tubas. DSS' trombone really isn't difficult to transport though. He can carry it easily with one hand, and it fits in the front seat, back seat, or trunk of my sedan. I imagine this is also true of trumpets, basoons, oboes, french horns, probably even a saxaphone. The same cannot be said for cellos, basses, and tubas.

DSS has band class every day. He is expected to have his instrument for class, and must complete an in-class vocabulary assignment if he does not have his instrument. Individual playing tests are given weekly. He is to practice a minimum of 20 minutes/day, 5 days/week, and his practice time is to be recorded on a practice sheet and signed off on by a parent. If he is unable to practice one day due to an unavoidable conflict he may make the time up another day, but "equally distributed practice time is best to promote success." (This is all directly from his band handbook.)

So DSS really needs to be able to bring his instrument back and forth to school every day to really be in full compliance with class expectations. Additionally, the handbook notes that instruments kept in the band room are there at the students own risk, and "Instruments should be taken home at the end of EVERY day." (Emphasis in the original.)

I probably wasn't especially clear in my last statement -- my apologies! I agree that trombones are probably easy to transport, and there are certainly many other instruments that fall into that category as well. So in the end, the best solution is to allow people to take them on the bus and make sure there is a secure place to store them during the day (which is often much easier to manage than a secure place overnight or over the weekend).

But I completely understand their rules about both practicing daily and having the instrument in school. I was also required to demonstrate that I was practicing regularly in middle school (my parents had to sign off on a practice sheet, and I was expected to practice at least 30 minutes per day). It's also impossible to have any sort of orchestra or band practice if the students don't have their instruments. Practicing alone is essential, but so is practicing as part of an ensemble.

In the end, they've put everyone in a very difficult spot. My intent with sharing what I did about my own experience was just to help you figure out what a reasonable and rational solution to this problem might be. Since I was also in public schools where fine arts were certainly offered (but far from emphasized), it strikes me as reasonable that if they want to offer a program to teach music, they do need to be prepared to provide at least some instruments and secure storage during the school day.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 02, 2012, 06:25:10 PM
No updates, but a new question. I spoke with the Assistant Principal yesterday morning, and he was going to make some calls and look for the policy when he could get to it "that afternoon", but I haven't heard back from him yet. How much time should I give him before following-up?

I found out tonight that there is going to be a Band Booster Club Meeting Thursday night, so I plan to go to that. If I feel like I develop a rapport right away with any of the other parents I might inquire casually if their children are encountering resistance to bringing their instruments on the bus, and how they are handling it. Otherwise I will just watch and listen for now.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: kherbert05 on October 02, 2012, 06:53:32 PM
No updates, but a new question. I spoke with the Assistant Principal yesterday morning, and he was going to make some calls and look for the policy when he could get to it "that afternoon", but I haven't heard back from him yet. How much time should I give him before following-up?

I found out tonight that there is going to be a Band Booster Club Meeting Thursday night, so I plan to go to that. If I feel like I develop a rapport right away with any of the other parents I might inquire casually if their children are encountering resistance to bringing their instruments on the bus, and how they are handling it. Otherwise I will just watch and listen for now.


I would give him a couple of days maybe till friday after you see what if any info you get at Band Boosters.
1. AP's often are in charge of discipline so something could have come up there
2. He might be waiting for the higher ups to get back to him.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: GSNW on October 02, 2012, 07:17:47 PM
This is horribly frustrating and I can see why you're irked, OP.  The school I teach at is very big on our performing arts program and I see kids loading their instruments onto the bus every day, so I don't think it's a legitimate safety issue as long as the students are behaving responsibly (as they should be with or without an instrument).  Of course, our transport is part of the district, so there's not that whole "outside company" issue to content with.

Does your band teacher offer any practice time after school?  I know experience varies from school to school, but ours does "open practice" after sixth period until the late bus arrives, Mon-Thurs.  Lots of gets get their practice hours in this way (those practice sheets sure seem to be a standard!) and then they don't have to take their instrument home at all.

Someone mentioned how practice might be hard living in an apartment.  I don't think it's rude to practice an instrument in that setting unless it's later, say after 7pm.  Even the screechings of the beginners :)
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 02, 2012, 08:02:04 PM
... Does your band teacher offer any practice time after school?  I know experience varies from school to school, but ours does "open practice" after sixth period until the late bus arrives, Mon-Thurs.  Lots of gets get their practice hours in this way (those practice sheets sure seem to be a standard!) and then they don't have to take their instrument home at all. ...

As far as I know, this is not an option at DSS' school at this time. It is something that I intend to inquire about if the students continue to be unable to take their instruments on the school bus.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 04, 2012, 04:07:44 PM
... Does your band teacher offer any practice time after school?  I know experience varies from school to school, but ours does "open practice" after sixth period until the late bus arrives, Mon-Thurs.  Lots of gets get their practice hours in this way (those practice sheets sure seem to be a standard!) and then they don't have to take their instrument home at all. ...

As far as I know, this is not an option at DSS' school at this time. It is something that I intend to inquire about if the students continue to be unable to take their instruments on the school bus.

Apparently, I didn't know very far, as DSS opted to stay after today, and has told us that he has the option to practice before and/or after school every day. He said that before school the band room is pretty crowded, but after school today he was the only student practicing and was able to get some personal instruction from the band director (who plays, or played, trombone professionally). So that is a great resource and I hope he continues to use it, but as I noted in previous posts the students still should not leave their instruments overnight for security reasons, and of course, we still had to go pick him up because the only bus home leaves immediately after school lets out.

I haven't heard back from the AP yet. I asked DSS today if he knew if all the buses weren't allowing instruments, or just his. He thought it was just his because he said other students were bringing their tubas on the bus.  ::)

A bit of a funny note, DSS said I should talk to the other parents about this, and get them on my side. Then he had a lightbulb moment and said, "Hey, the booster club tonight would be a good place to talk to them!" Where did my innocent little boy go, and who left this calculating half-adult in his place?
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Update #39
Post by: norrina on October 04, 2012, 07:13:16 PM
More information on the instruments on the bus situation was forthcoming at tonight's Band Booster Club Meeting. The AP spoke with the principal, and the principal has been calling around with various people in the district and at the bussing company. Right now his understanding is that no instruments on the busses has been a policy for some time, but has not been enforced until now (and it does sound like the district may have only recently begun dealing with this bus company, whereas I had thought that they had contracted with them for at least 2 years). The principal said that he is trying to work out an agreement, he suggested that instruments like the trombone could go upright on the floor between the student's legs, and instruments too large for that could go in their own seat. One of the Booster Club officers said that the school does still have some instruments available, so another option could be that students rent one instrument privately for at home, and another at the reduced school rate to use at the school (whereas I had thought those instruments were already completed rented out, and had only been available to low-income families).

So while there is no resolution yet, the AP, principal, band director, and Band Booster Club are all aware of the situation and are working in that direction.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70
Post by: gramma dishes on October 04, 2012, 07:22:10 PM
^^^  See, aren't you glad you got the ball rolling on this?  Other parents (and students) will thank you too!   :)

Hopefully you soon will see some resolution that works for everyone.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70
Post by: acicularis on October 05, 2012, 10:22:38 AM
Glad the situation may be resolved soon.

I think it's a shame, though, that one option is to have students rent two instruments. Even at a reduced fee, that may be a barrier for some families.

When my daughter wanted to start cello two years ago, renting two instruments would have been out of the question for us(cellos already being more expensive than many other instruments). Fortunately, there are school cellos (and other large instruments) available for school use, except for performances and when the entire orchestra must rehearse at the same time. Had that not been the case, we would probably have encouraged and alternate choice.
Title: Re: Musical Instruments on the School Bus. Mini Updates #39, 70
Post by: norrina on October 05, 2012, 03:38:37 PM
Glad the situation may be resolved soon.

I think it's a shame, though, that one option is to have students rent two instruments. Even at a reduced fee, that may be a barrier for some families.

When my daughter wanted to start cello two years ago, renting two instruments would have been out of the question for us(cellos already being more expensive than many other instruments). Fortunately, there are school cellos (and other large instruments) available for school use, except for performances and when the entire orchestra must rehearse at the same time. Had that not been the case, we would probably have encouraged and alternate choice.

The Booster Club explicitly stated, and I very much got the feeling that they were not just paying lip service, that they want to work with families to make music a possibility. I know that they will work out a payment plan or waive the usual band fee altogether if it is out of a family's means to pay it. I suspect they would do the same thing with the school instrument rental fee.