The TJC band facilities are one of the most pressing needs on the TJC campus, and the solution continues to be a work in progress.
Band Director Tom Mensch, gave the Pow Wow the “Apache Band Program Purpose,” a five-page statement written to highlight both the band organization’s success as well as their major problems with underfunding and clutter.
The memo itself, details concern’s of Mensch and the band students, including that each student is given, for his own practicing and learning experience, 13 square feet per student, which is much less than what a student with another major has available to themselves in there respective buildings.
“There are not practice rooms because those rooms must be given to the teachers as offices, and therefore if there is a class in the band hall, students must practice outside or in their cars,” said Mensch.
Fifty members of the band are also music majors, which is half of the number of music majors at TJC. These majors are still required to get the two hours of lesson practice each week. Mensch said that practicing outside for a grade is pretty much the equivalent to a chemistry major doing his lab work outside.
“When I came here getting a new band hall was something that was being talked about and Mr,Mensch even told us that there were blueprints, but that was three years ago” said Kirby Johnson, a student assistant.
Many students said that Mensch has commonly told them about a new band hall. Although the current outlook is to have the new hall ready “in three years, on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of TJC.” Mensch also commented that they were hearing about a new one three years ago.
The band hall was built for a 60-person band, and was effective when Mensch first came to TJC, but now it’s a 220-person band.
“If we don’t at least get a new building it would be helpful to get a temporary solution…I’ve simply been asking for a temporary solution for a long term problem,” said Mensch.
He is referring to storage sheds offered up by TISD that are portable and could also be used as add-ons to an eventual band hall. No progress with a temporary solution has been made at this point.
Many of the band members often seek to practice in the rooms given to the music department hall in the Wise building, but they are often too loud since the rooms are not insulated, and are asked to leave by the surrounding classes. Students Zach Tunnell and Daniel Heron, who have both tried to play there, said that there is someone playing outside every time you walk into the band hall, and the Wise rooms aren’t really a better option because they play louder than piano players and guitar players.
Sheryl Rodgers, the executive director of institution effectiveness, planning, and research, was the managing directorfor the fine arts department when talks were beginning for a new band hall in 2005, and was very involved with talking to the architects.
“The current idea is to combine the band funding and Apache belle funding, as they are currently operating in the same facility anyways, and combining the new building into better facilities for both of them” said Rodgers.
Although she stressed that the band hall is still a pressing need, she says the primary need is in the nursing department, not in building but in updating antiquated equipment, but never the less we should address the band hall situation. If they had the donors they would possibly be moved up to first priority.
“When I left in ’05 it appeared that funding was available, but it never went through. At that point it had gotten as far as blueprints,” said Rogers. “I think there were other needs at that time, but of course the administration knows that there is a great need in the band hall. The problem is they need donors.”
Mensch though maintained that he is not allowed to talk to donors, so that is really up to the administration, and although the administration is obviously trying to end the problem, its still a growing one.