Simple, Inexpensive Band Room Solutions

Simple, Inexpensive Band Room Solutions

Penny-Pinching in your Band Program


By NAfME Members Andrew Smouse and Brittany Hassler

All music teachers know money and time are limited in our profession. Budgets are cut, fundraisers fail, and planning periods pass by quickly. Although these are all realities, there are simple and inexpensive ways to help overcome these and other issues that plague our profession. Below you will find a few ideas to consider this fall about inexpensive band room solutions.

budget / Charlene Key

Simple, Inexpensive Maintenance Ideas

In today’s world of always needing the newest cell phone or the latest video game, the limits of our budgets often prevent us from buying the latest, greatest instruments. Using simple, inexpensive items found in your local community, often at lower prices than found in commercial music stores, you can extend the life of your instruments, getting a greater return on your investment. Common items you may already have lying around or plan to purchase for your summer projects are listed below:

  • 3-in-1 Oil – This oil can be found in any hardware or home improvement store. This inexpensive oil can help sustain the life of your instruments and supplies with some simple preventative maintenance such as keeping the tension rods on drums moving easily while also preventing rust.
  • Penetrating Oil – Find this handy oil at any home improvement store to help get ready for your upcoming band camp. Apply some of the oil to hard to move or lightly stuck tuning slides to help get them apart and remove the built up rust or patina.
  • 0000 Steel Wool – Find this super fine steel wool in any store that carries home supplies. Use this to help shine all the silver hardware of your marching percussion instruments such as the rims, lugs, and tension rods.
  • Brass Polish and regular Pledge® – Find these items in any store that carries cleaning supplies. Brass polish can be used to shine cymbals and a light coating of regular Pledge® will keep them shining throughout the season.
marching band / Alan Lagadu

It Takes a Village

To have a successful music program every band director needs help and assistance. Three groups of individuals who can help you and your program, with some simple ideas of how they can help, are below.

  • School Colleagues are on your team
    • Custodians – access to tools or assistance with repairs
    • Administrative Assistants – scheduling and communication within the school district
    • Fellow teachers – scheduling flexibility and program support
  • Parents
    • Music Boosters
    • Fundraising
    • Director support
  • Students
    • Delegation
    • Leadership assignments
    • Task force


Getting the Local Community Involved

Community involvement can help with time, energy, and funds. Some items can be found at a small cost or through donation. You may even be able to receive donated items in exchange for a simple program advertisement at your ensemble’s performances. Examples of small items that can be found through donation are carpet squares, brake drums, thunder sheet, and water or snacks.

donate / StockFinland

Local businesses are always looking for various ways to support their community. They often allot funds for donating materials or supplying discounts in order to give back to their community. Why not ask your local businesses for assistance? Having your students sign a simple thank you card after a donation or having your music boosters writing a request letter can make all the difference in potentially securing a long-term mutually beneficial relationship between your program and a local business.

Photo: Howard Rockwin

Need More Ideas or Solutions?


From developing through high school bands, public or private, small to large programs, we are here to help share our collective knowledge with our fellow colleagues. Whether it is creating instruments or your own accessories, producing engaging teaching aids, or finding instrument substitutions, we can work together to make our programs stronger. For more information, come see us on Friday, November 11th at 4:30pm.


About the authors:


Andrew J. Smouse received his Master of Music Degree in Wind Band Conducting from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Kutztown University. As a music educator, he earned the High School Principals’ Associations Novice Teacher of the Year and the Theodore James Ryken Teacher of the Year Award as the Fine Arts Department Chair and Director of Bands and Orchestra at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Maryland. An active clinician, he has presented clinics at the Southern Maryland Catholic Teachers Conferences, Maryland Music Educators Association, and several colleges and universities. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.

band director

Brittany Hassler graduated with a B.S. in Music Education degree from Kutztown University. She has been a music instructor and curriculum designer for several school districts and organizations including the Reading Musical Foundation. Ms. Hassler is currently the percussion instructor and arranger for Muhlenberg High School in Reading, PA, and the Middle School Band Director for the Oxford Area School District in Oxford, PA. Additionally, she is expecting to graduate with her Masters in Music Education at West Chester University of Pennsylvania in August 2016. Visit Brittany Hassler’s band website.

Andrew Smouse and Brittany Hassler will be presenting on their topic, “Simple, Inexpensive Band Room Solutions,” at the 2016 NAfME National In-Service Conference this November in Grapevine, TX! Register today!

music education

Join us for more than 100 innovative professional development sessions, nightly entertainment, extraordinary performances from across the country, and tons of networking opportunities with over 3,000+ other music educators! Learn more and register today: And follow the hashtag #NAfME2016!

Did this blog spur new ideas for your music program? Share them on Amplify! Interested in reprinting this article? Please review the reprint guidelines.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

Catherina Hurlburt, Communications Manager, September 21, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (