AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Austintown Schools Orchestra is running short on instruments for its students but the director considers it a good problem.
The district’s orchestra has been around for four years and is offered to grades 5 through 12.
High schools offering orchestras are hard to come by in the area and Austintown students are taking advantage of the ensemble.
“My mother played when she was younger and I always wanted to play and when the school got the program, I knew that was my opportunity,” said Olivia Saxey, a sophomore.
Violins, violas, cellos, and basses — the orchestra needs all of them because Director Sara Eliser said she has too many kids joining.
“I have more students wanting to take orchestra and I don’t have enough instruments for children with financial inabilities.”
Eliser said most of the students rent-to-own their instruments, which is the same as making a car or house payment. That can get pretty expensive and if a child’s family cannot afford it, the child cannot join the orchestra.
“Right now, our band program has plenty of instruments that the students can use throughout the year but our orchestra program does not. So any students that want to join orchestra but cannot get the instrument, do not have that option,” Eliser said.
The high school has three instruments back-stocked right now — and that’s it.
Eliser said most of the children in 5th and 6th grades play violin and violas and as they continue to advance in school, eventually, the orchestra isn’t going to be a full orchestra.
“Next year, all three of my cellos will graduate.”
The next cello player is only in 6th grade right now.
“That’s why I’m looking for instruments to switch my violin and violas…because I can’t just ask them to go buy another $4,000 instrument,” Eliser said.
If you would like to donate instruments to Austintown Fitch High School, you can drop them off at the main entrance and tell them it’s for the orchestra. Smaller sizes are especially needed for the younger students.
Eliser said they’ll take instruments in any condition and find a way to fix them.