Bad news from Long Beach, CA:

Junior Concert Band Seeks New Place To Call Home

After 60 years of performing, marching and making memories, the Long Beach Junior Concert Band soon will find themselves “homeless” when the lease is up on their practice space this summer.

The band, which has an enduring legacy of youth players, has used the North Long Beach Community Center as its practice, office and storage space for the last year. It was provided by the city’s department of Parks, Recreation and Marine. Due to citywide budget cuts, the Junior Concert Band now must find a new place to call home.

Before they made their home in North Long Beach, the band was stationed in Signal Hill for the last 20 years, but was asked by the city to vacate because of financial reasons. With 60 years of memorabilia, more than 1,500 trophies, equipment, uniforms and about 35 youth band members, the Junior Concert Band officials are scratching their heads as to where they will end up come July.

“These are our kids,” said board member and Treasurer Carrie Daquiado, who joined the band herself in 1976. “This band helps keeps kids off the streets… A busy kid is always a good kid.”

Founded in 1952 by Marvin Marker, the band is a registered nonprofit organization run by volunteers, and does not turn down any child interested in joining. While most of the youth are between the ages of 12 and 21 years old, there are a few children as young as 6 years old, who now are learning to play an instrument and perform alongside their older peers.
With the sudden passing of director and founder Marker in December 2009, the band has been working hard to keep its legacy thriving in the community and even across the country. It is most famously known as the band that has escorted Santa Claus in the Hollywood Christmas Parade for the last 52 years.

The band will be in Las Vegas this weekend marching in the Heritage Parade in Henderson, Nev.

“We’re letting our little ones march with our pageantry girls,” Daquiado added. “Even though they don’t play instruments just yet, we let them march.”

Even with fun activities and performances planned, Daquiado said that she and other board members are worried that they won’t be able to find a suitable space for them in time.

The band’s limited resources and nonprofit status makes it hard for them to find a building owner willing to donate a space — even temporarily. Leasing agents have turned down the band due to its nonprofit status, which means a lack of commission for those agents.

“We can adapt to anything we can get,” Daquiado said. “The kids love it here and want to be here. They are dedicated to this band. Even if a building owner wants to let us be in their space while they look for a tenant would be something.”
In the meantime, the children and their directors will need to remember their motto, “Our Band Sticks Together,” to make it through this uncertain time.

They have been working alongside Eighth District City Councilwoman Rae Gabelich to seek some support and assistance, according to Executive Board President Jim Mitchell, but nothing is definite right now.

“We need to have a new home,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been trying to meet with her to get this back on agenda to see if they have another facility for us. She was a big supporter for us last year and that’s why we’re in contact with her.”

For more information about the Long Beach Junior Concert Band, visit For more details about the band’s current situation, or to make a donation, call Daquiado at (310) 698-9815.

from the University of Georgia:

Civil War sounds get brass band revival
By GINA BORG on April 19, 2012

Saxton’s Cornet Band makes a time machine out of its audience’s eyes and ears — taking them to the 19
th century.

Founded in the 1860s by Henry Saxton in Lexington, Ky., the town brass band lay dormant for about six decades before receiving new life in 1989.

The goal of the group is to “recreate sights and sounds of the Civil War,” said Rusty Sexton, an E flat cornet soloist in the band.


Saxton’s Cornet Band recreates the sounds of the 1860s — and the instruments and clothing, too. Courtesy Saxton’s Cornet Band

It can be said that Sexton didn’t find Saxton — Saxton found him: in 2007, the cornet player took his horn in for repairs and walked away with an invitation to sit in with the brass band. He has been playing with them ever since.

Saxton’s Cornet is made up of 12 members and a narrator, Mickey Hughes, who provides historical context for songs and entertains the audience with “really old jokes,” Sexton said. Hughes is a curator for the Kentucky Historical Society, giving him an edge in knowing period particulars. Additionally, Sexton calls the narrator a “music fanatic,” who occasionally fills in for missing members.

“He allows us to make sure we’re doing the right thing and not exceeding the boundaries of what a Civil War brass band would’ve done,” he said.

Members of the group put a lot of effort into their historical authenticity: only the percussion instruments had to be recreated; all others are 1860s originals. During performances, the group interacts with their audience, often inviting them to handle the instruments and “check them out for themselves,” Sexton said.

The elderly instruments are acquired in any way possible — most come from collectors, eBay auctions and antique shows. The archaic quality of the instruments allows for a sound that is not frequently found today.

“The valves click because they are somewhat primitive in their design,” said Sexton. “You would’ve heard it then too … It’s a darker sound because of the construction of the instruments and the shape of the pipes. It’s a different tone than that of modern day instruments. It’s more of a mellow sound.”

Even the group’s packaged material has a certain quality hard to reproduce in modern times, as all of the recordings are produced in buildings constructed in the 1860s.

The outfits also intend to take audiences back in time. The performers wear uniforms that suit 1860s style down to the buttons and belt buckles. Though the band members can sometimes be seen in gray or blue, they are most usually found in their red coats, meant to look like the early uniforms of U.S. marines. Aiming for accuracy, the clothing contains no synthetic material.

Saxton’s Cornet plays songs at the heart of America, such as “Yankee Doodle” and a song from an opera of Gounod Faust, which “Abraham Lincoln absolutely adored,” Sexton said.

The musicians have been invited to play at events all throughout the U.S., including the 2000 presidential inauguration of George W. Bush. The group generally plays between five and 15 concerts annually, but has been busier over the past year, as 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s start. Most of the band’s shows are based in areas of significance to the Civil War because that’s where the most interest is generated.

Historical societies, such as the Civil War Roundtable of Kentucky, show their support for Saxton’s Cornet. However, the band also receives support from college students and brass band festivals—as well as a few unsuspected sources.
Due to the group’s thick ties to American history, one might be tempted to doubt its international appeal. On the contrary, it has been hired to play in Taiwan and different parts of Europe where there still survives an interest in town bands.
“We welcome all audiences,” Sexton said.


Where: Ramsey Concert Hall

When: Tonight at 8

Price: $32

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Funeral home to be converted to jazz school

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Four years ago, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation purchased a 12,500-square-foot funeral home at a sheriff's auction.

The nonprofit didn't know exactly what to do with the historic two-story structure, but it was located in the same block as the foundation's headquarters and seemed like a good way to expand its campus, said Scott Aiges, the foundation's director of programming, marketing and communications.

Suggestions included making it the new home for radio station WWOZ or the foundation's archives.

Ultimately, one idea everyone kept coming back to won - make it the permanent home for the Heritage School of Music.

"We feel very strongly about passing on the great wealth of knowledge we have with our musicians to the younger generation," foundation executive director Don Marshall said.

Renovations are expected to begin in November and cost $8.5 million. The foundation kicked in several million of its own money and is trying to raise the rest through grants and personal donations.

The Heritage School of Music, currently at Dillard University, is expected to open in the fall of 2014. Eskew+Dumez+Ripple is the project architect.

The building will feature seven classrooms and a 200-seat performance hall that can also be used as a community center when neighborhood groups need meeting space.

Classrooms will be equipped with cameras for online classes and so students can record themselves and review their performances.

The technology will also make it possible to have someone such as Wynton Marsalis teach a class online from a different part of the country, Aiges said.

The school only has classes one day a week, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, at Dillard. Moving into a permanent location, along with raising money for more classes, will allow it to expand to seven days a week.

"No one else really has the interest and wherewithal to dump a multi-million dollar project like this right at the gate into Treme," Aiges said. "And this will bring other benefits to the community. They will have access to a new state-of-the-art facility, and there will be increased activity every day, which will lead to more cafes and restaurants and art galleries."

The Heritage School of Music focuses on jazz instruction with instructors "Big" Sam Williams on trombone, Ricky Sebastian on drums, Leah Chase on vocals, Derek Douget on saxophone and Michael Pellera on piano. Edward "Kidd" Jordan is the artistic director.

Classes, which will be held in the afternoon following the regular school day, are free to students who have at least a year of instruction under their belt and pass an initial assessment. There are currently 100 children enrolled.

Most public school music classes only have one teacher and focus on marching or concert bands, Douget said. The Heritage School, with eight teachers who each specialize in a different instrument, has the luxury of providing more intensive instruction.

"Bands in schools generally just play during football games or pep rallies," Douget said. "You'll likely get someone who can teach you to read music and the fundamentals of your instrument, like how to play scales. We obviously stress music fundamentals and reading, but we also take it a step further and try to teach the art of improvisation and the history of jazz and where that instrument came from and how it was created."

The Jazz and Heritage Foundation supports local music programs and recently held its "Class Got Brass" competition. Participating schools formed their own brass bands and competed for $30,000 in cash prizes that could be used to purchase instruments.

Kipp McDonogh 15 Middle School came in first followed by O. Perry Walker High School and McDonogh 35 High School.

The goal was to push schools to feature more brass bands as opposed to just marching bands.

"Here we are in New Orleans, where our brass band music is an icon to the world. But some schools don't really support it," Aiges said. "It's more of an extracurricular thing. This was our way to encourage all schools to help their kids carry the tradition forward."

Band men in demand
April 15, 2012 Altoona Mirror

While practicing with the elementary jazz ensemble at McAuliffe Heights at Irving Elementary School, Connor Mosebey accidentally dropped his trumpet and the mouthpiece became stuck.

His instructor, Larry Detwiler, Altoona Area High School band director, told him to take his trumpet to Bandman Rental & Repair at the Meadows Intersection, Duncansville.

Co-owner Doug Stephens quickly resolved the problem.

"I was amazed that they didn't charge for it. I was astounded that they took such a long-term view of their customer. They were done while we waited and it was as good as new," said Geoff Mosebey of Altoona, Connor's dad. "We won't go anywhere else, that is for sure."

There aren't many people in the area trained to repair band instruments.

Stephens and his brother-in-law, Joel Myers, who opened Bandman six years ago, and Altoona native Mark Chaplin of State College, who has been doing this line of work for 30 years, are among the specialists in the area.

Bandman handles instrument repairs for 22 area schools - including all Blair County schools - as well as Juniata College, St. Francis University, Penn State and Penn State Altoona.

"We are kind of a well-kept secret," said Stephens, who served as band director at Hollidaysburg Area High School from 1995 to 2005.

Detwiler is pleased with Stephens' work.

"Doug was a band director for years. I've had times when it is [the day of] a football game and something happens that morning [to an instrument]. Doug has been in the game and he understands. His big advantage is that he understands - sometimes the instruments don't understand it is a concert day," Detwiler said. "He always says, 'I will do all I possibly can to get it back to you.'"

Chaplin, a 1973 AAHS graduate, does instrument repair work for four music stores - two in Altoona and two in State College. He also does repair work for several school districts such as State College, Bald Eagle Area and Central Mountain.

Both Chaplin and Stephens attended special schools to get the needed training.

Chaplin attended the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix, Ariz.

"My whole life I have been interested in mechanics and music. I played various instruments and decided to go to school to learn how to build guitars. I figured if you could build them, you could fix them," he said.

Stephens gave up his teaching career and was accepted at Badger State Repair School in Elkhorn, Wis., which only accepts six students per year and is one of only a handful of such schools in the United States.

"It is a self-paced, more of an apprentice-type program. My plan was to come back and set up a shop," Stephens said.

Jay Dell, owner of Treese's Music Store in Hollidaysburg, also has been repairing band instruments for many years.

Dell has been in the instrument repair business since 1973 when he went to work for Elliott Treese, who opened the store in 1952.

"He was the band director at the high school. He needed someone to fix instruments and there was no one to do it," Dell said. "He taught me and I continued to learn over the years.

"We also work on guitars, violins, drums, accordions and antique instruments. You need to find your niche. We've been doing it since 1952. I've been doing it for 40 years and am still doing it."

Ed Strege, Badger State administrator, called musical instrument repair work a craft and said the younger generation seems to steer away from that kind of work.

"It takes three to five years before they become a craftsman at the job. They go here for about a year and go over every woodwind and brass instrument over and over to get good at it. It is all very hands-on," Strege said.

Stephens, who trained Myers how to do the work, said being a music educator was an advantage for him.

"Having been a music educator, I knew how to play them. We have to make sure they play right," Stephens said.

Chaplin called musical instrument repair very specialized work.

"It takes thousands of dollars' worth of specialty tools and years and years of practice. You can't do the work without specialty tools. I have about $20,000 invested in tools," Chaplin said.

Some of the repair work can be time-consuming.

"Sometimes people may complain that I take a couple more days. Anyone who wants to try to repair their instrument on their own is welcome to try it," Chaplin said. "Once they try to do it on their own, they will not complain about coming to me."

Strege said those who complete the course at Badger State won't have trouble finding a job.

"What they find is because of the quality of the school, they find they are in very big demand and we have no problem finding them a job, Strege said. "They can tell me any city in the United States where they would like to go, and I can find them a job. Our job placement is 100 percent and they often have a job within five or 10 minutes. There is a great demand for these kind of jobs."

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from Dr. Margaret Downie Brooks' wonderful site on the history of CG Conn:

Origins of National School Band Movement (1923)

Carl Greenleaf wrote that the development of the national school band movement was the most significant endeavor with which he, and consequently the Conn company, was ever connected. Although he was sensitive to the fact that some might view his involvement as self-serving—creating a new market for his products—in fact, a new market did emerge, one which would forever change the direction of the company. In 1923, Greenleaf helped organize the first National Band Contest in Chicago and, in 1928, committed the Conn company to supporting Joseph Maddy's establishment of the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan. At Greenleaf's direction, C. G. Conn Ltd. contributed $10,000 in company funds to support the building of this camp. In addition, Greenleaf offered the resources of the Conn company in the initial publication of T. P. Giddings' Universal Teacher method for training young band musicians. Finally, to help prepare the nation's new band directors for the public school classroom, Greenleaf established the Conn National School of Music in Chicago in 1923, naming trombonist Frederick Neil Innes the first director.

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from the New York Times:
IN TRANSIT; Flying With Instruments Gets Easier for Musicians

As if booking a gig wasn't hard enough, tightened baggage regulations and inconsistent policies among airlines have made it difficult for musicians to figure out how to get their instruments to the next show.

But a new bill passed by Congress this month sets a uniform national policy on the matter. The Federal Aviation Administration will permit any instrument that can be safely stored in the overhead compartment or underneath a seat to be treated as carry-on luggage. It also sets size and weight requirements (150 linear inches and 165 pounds) for instruments checked as baggage, and it allows musicians to purchase an extra seat on a plane for instruments that are either too large for the overhead compartment or too fragile to be stored in the cargo hold.

Ending the confusion over how to travel with instruments has been a legislative priority of the American Federation of Musicians for almost a decade, Ray Hair, the federation's president, said in a statement. ''Musicians can now fly in friendlier skies.''

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A letter to the editor rom the local paper in Framingham, Mass.:

Starting band and orchestra at an early age is “instrumental” in students’ musical development.  Students who start in fourth and fifth grade have the opportunity to learn the basics of their instruments early on.  This way, they can enter middle school already having an understanding of music and of the instruments they play, building on these rudiments towards high school expectations.

In middle school, kids can finally learn to put notes together: they can learn phrasing and articulation and real expression, since they are no longer bogged down by having to struggle to remember how to play each individual note. Without those first two years in elementary school to work as a springboard for me, I would have lost two years to grow into and get to know my instrument. Instead of playing a professional level military band suite by Gustav Holst in tenth grade, I may still have been playing middle school level music.

Enrollment in the elementary school program has dropped from approximately 400 students before the program was changed to today’s 185.  While there are many variables to consider, the reason for this decline is likely the program’s tuition or the fact that it is held after school, rather than during the day.  Having to pay hundreds of dollars to participate in the program in addition to renting or purchasing an instrument can be prohibitively expensive for many Framingham families.  Eliminating or substantially decreasing the program fee would enable any student interested in music to take part.

Holding the program after school is also a barrier for many students. Parents often cannot drive their children home from school in the middle of the afternoon because they have to work. In addition, many students are fatigued after a six-hour school day and have trouble focusing on their music.  Many students also have after-school commitments, such as sports, religious school, or meeting with a tutor, and consequently might have to choose those over learning an instrument.  Having the program during school would eliminate these issues. As an interim alternative, a before-school program, although not ideal, would at least address these issues until a during-school solution could be implemented.
Kids get so many things out of learning to play an instrument and being part of an ensemble. There are leadership opportunities everywhere: you can be a section leader, an officer, the founder of a new ensemble, and even a student conductor.  Musicians have earned a certain visibility throughout the district: The Framingham Flyer Marching Band has been growing over the past six years from being nonexistent to winning a gold medal at our most recent festival. We have two complete big band-style jazz ensembles, one of which won a gold medal at an international jazz festival last spring. These bands give the town something to be proud of, and they give the students something to be proud of.  

Music inspires a sense of accomplishment and of confidence: earning that gold medal, perfecting that solo, marching down the 50-yard line under the lights with the crowd cheering. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments, we learn from each other’s mistakes, and we rise and fall as one; we’re like a family that way. Music is not just special because you learn to play an instrument; it is special because of the community that you build out of a collective passion.

Enrollment in the elementary program has dropped significantly, and it could continue to do so if we do not reimplement the program at the elementary school level soon. It is imperative that we continue to bolster the feeder system into the middle schools and the high school in order to maintain the dynamic and vibrant community we have worked so hard to build.

Framingham High School, Class of 2013

Presented here, as a tribute to ships musicians everywhere, on the 100th anniversary of the sailing of the Titanic.
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Heroic band played on as Titanic began its descent into deeps
on Apr 10 2012 - 4:21am

Most people know two things about the musicians on the Titanic. They played Nearer, My God, To Thee when the ship broke its back and went down nose first, and they all slipped off the quarterdeck into the icy North Atlantic as the rest of the ship followed.

Three of the bodies, grouped together, were recovered by the Mackay-Bennett cable ship: Violinist Jock Hume’s body is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax. Bassist Fred (Nobby) Clarke lies in Mount Olivet Cemetery, also in Halifax, and band leader-violinist Wallace Hartley, who was found with his violin strapped to his chest, was taken back to England and the family vault in Liverpool.

But some of the "facts" we know about the band are porous.

With the North Atlantic waters at -2 C, they would have died of hypothermia. Life-jackets kept them from breathing in a lungful of water, but were not designed to keep them warm. According to journalist Christopher Ward, violinist Jock Hume’s grandson, they would have lost consciousness within 15 minutes in such cold water, with death following 10 minutes later.

There are questions too about which of at least three of a half-dozen versions of Nearer, My God, To Thee they played. In England, the tune is called Horbury. In North America it’s called Bethany, and that’s the one most of us think of and the one James Cameron had the band play in his 1997 movie.

David Langstroth plays the double bass in Rhapsody Quintet and has researched the question of which of a half-dozen versions of Nearer, My God, To Thee the Titanic band played, including Proprior Deo (Nearer To God in Latin) by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Yet everybody knew the words.

"It’s a unique situation," Langstroth said. "We are doing a couple of performances in the next month that are related to the Titanic sinking. Rhapsody is almost the same instrumentation as the Titanic quintet, different only in that they have one violin and a clarinet rather than two violins.

"As soon as I started looking into it, I discovered this controversy — which hymn was it?" Langstroth said in a recent interview. "We are just going to play the one. My own best guess? From the perspective of a musician, I have settled on Horbury by John Bacchus Dykes."

Horbury is the version played in A Night to Remember (1958), perhaps the best-known film version of the story. The first eight bars of Horbury are inscribed on scroll at the foot of the memorial to violinist Jock Hume and his friend Thomas Mullin, a Titanic steward, erected in their hometown of Dumfries, Scotland.

On the other hand, the first four measures of Bethany are inscribed on the monument erected to the "heroic bandsmen of the steamship Titanic" in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

Photos of both monuments can be found in Yvonne Hume’s book.

Lifeboat survivors clearly remember the hymn as Nearer, My God, To Thee. It was an era where everybody went to church, and hymn sings were a part of the Titanic’s social calendar. Everybody knew the words.

But on a freezing, damp, nightmarish night, with the traumatic vision of the huge ship sinking, lights ablaze and the band playing, the notes of the tune, played by unamplified string instruments, could easily be confused by survivors.

Much is made of the band for its heroic decision to play until the ship sank, with their lifebelts close by until the last minute. It was an extraordinary act of courage.

They played cheerful tunes — ragtime and Broadway hits — and are credited with calming fears and preventing panic as the passengers, in the three hours between hitting the iceberg and sinking, gradually realized what was happening.

The musicians had to be very good. They had to know all 352 tunes in the White Star music book, and were not allowed to use sheet music. Passengers in the first-class saloon were given the list and could call out requests.

The list included overtures, operatic selections, suites and fantasias, waltzes, sacred music, intermezzos, marches and cakewalks.

They played three programs a day, Sunday services, dances and dinner music, with the trio playing in the Parisian cafe, and the quintet in the main lounge and the entranceway while the ship took on passengers.

But neither talent and skill nor heroism prevented them from being exploited. In Edwardian society, just as in Mozart’s day, they had the status of servants.

Just 15 days after the disaster, the Clarks sent Andrew Hume, Jock Hume’s father, a bill for his unpaid band uniform.

But Andrew Hume was a piece of work himself. He hijacked relief money sent to Jock’s widowed fiancee Mary Costin, who was at the time pregnant with Christopher Ward’s mother, Johnann.

Andrew refused to acknowledge their engagement and accused Costin of casting a slur on his reputation. She took him to court and he had to turn over some 67 to her.

And yet, the band played on and by all accounts, Jock, at 21, was the cheeriest of them all, full of life and fun. Some members of the Titanic crew laughed when they saw one of the two cellists running and dragging his cello spike along the deck after news of the collision with the iceberg had penetrated to the second- and third-class passengers.

They thought he was rushing to save his instrument. He was not. He was rushing to get on deck to start playing.

And they did. And they cheered everyone up. And they died, perhaps not as some said, with water swirling around their knees, but they died as heroes.

Playing an instrument helps tune the brain
Study shows positive effects from a lifetime of music

By Leslie Mann, Special to the Chicago Tribune
March 28, 2012

Note to husbands who need excuses to play the guitar with their buddies and to parents justifying the cost of their children's piano lessons: A new study from Northwestern University in Evanston says lifelong playing of musical instruments has a positive impact on the brain.

"Our neural timing slows as we age; we knew that," said Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern and principal investigator of its Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory. "Hearing what your spouse says when you're in a noisy restaurant, for example, is harder when you're older. But this study shows that musicians are faster at processing noise than non-musicians are. This shows us there is a biological impact of musical training."

It makes sense, said Kraus.

"A musician has to be constantly picking out sounds from others," she said. "Just as we lift weights to build our biceps, playing music makes our nervous systems more efficient."

The study included 87 participants — younger (18 to 32) and older (45 to 65), musicians and nonmusicians. The musicians were not all professional, but they played their instruments at least three times a week into adulthood.

"I watched a movie with captions to keep me awake while electrodes on my head measured my reaction to sounds I heard through headphones," said study participant Rick Wunder, 60, from Evanston.

Wunder is a retired systems analyst who has played the trombone since he was a child and now plays in a community symphony and in several brass quartets.

The electrodes measured how Wunder's nervous system responded to the sounds he heard.

"We're talking milliseconds of time," said Kraus. "It's very objective; the mood of the participant didn't matter."

"The results are very interesting, I think," said Wunder. "When I'm with other people my age in a loud place like a sports bar, I can tell they don't necessarily hear what I say, while I still can."

In the study's chart that compares sound to neural responses among musicians, the two wavy lines are in sync. But the nonmusicians' chart looks like confetti (the neural responses) thrown at a wavy line (the sounds the participants heard).

The study is affecting education policymaking, said Kraus.

"We've been pleased to hear from educators who have used our website ( to argue for funding for continuation of musical education," she said. "We're giving them biological evidence that, yes, continued musical education matters."

In addition to the affects of aging, musical training affects daily activities of young people such as hearing a teacher in a noisy classroom or even simple conversation, explained Kraus.

"As we're talking, your brain has to remember what you just said," she said.

The study will be published in a 2012 edition of the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Used Woodwind and Brass Musical Instruments Harbor Harmful Bacteria and Fungi, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2011) — Research has shown that playing a musical instrument can help nourish, cultivate, and increase intelligence in children, but playing a used instrument also can pose a potentially dangerous health risk.

Used woodwind and brass instruments were found to be heavily contaminated with a variety of bacteria and fungi, many of which are associated with minor to serious infectious and allergic diseases, according to a study published in the March/April 2011 issue of
General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

"Many children participate in their school's band ensemble and often the instruments they play are on loan," said R. Thomas Glass, DDS, PhD, lead author of the study. "Most of these instruments have been played by other students, and without the proper sanitation, bacteria and fungi can thrive for weeks and even months after the last use."

A total of 117 different sites, including the mouthpieces, internal chambers, and cases, were tested on 13 previously played instruments of a high school band. Six of the instruments had been played within a week of testing, while seven hadn't been touched in about one month. The instruments produced 442 different bacteria, many of which were species of Staphylococcus, which can cause staph infections. Additionally, 58 molds and 19 yeasts were identified.

"Parents may not realize that the mold in their child's instrument could contribute to the development of asthma," said Dr. Glass.

Additionally, the yeasts on the instruments commonly cause skin infections around the mouth and lips ("red lips").

"Because these instruments come into contact with the mouth, it's no wonder they're a breeding ground for bacteria," said AGD spokesperson Cynthia Sherwood, DDS, FAGD. "As dentists, we see this same growth of bacteria in dentures, athletic mouthguards, and toothbrushes."

Researchers found that many of the bacteria can cause illness in humans and are highly resistant to the antibiotics normally prescribed by general practitioners. This finding makes sterilization of instruments extremely important.

"Instruments should be cleaned after each use to reduce the number of organisms," said Dr. Sherwood. "And cleaning should not be confined to the mouthpiece, since the bacteria invade the entire instrument."

To avoid transmission of bacteria from instrument to player, parents and students should frequently wipe the surface of the instrument that comes into contact with the skin and mouth. The instrument should be taken apart for thorough cleanings on a regular basis. Dr. Glass suggests using cleaning cloths and solutions made specifically for instruments. Most importantly, students are advised not to share their instruments with others. Students should consult with their band instructor for additional ways to disinfect their instruments.