Throughout the course of the school week, Lincoln County High School music teacher Josh Day instructs students through band, choir and elective courses. From clarinet lessons to music theory, Day helps students master instrumental skills, perform musical numbers and behave like respectful audience members.
Day is the only music teacher for both Lincoln County’s middle and high schools, after reorganization led the school district to consolidate two music teacher positions into one. This is Day’s second year with the Eureka Public Schools, as well as his second year teaching. He hopes to stay in the job until he retires.
Yet Day’s work bringing music to the next generation of Lincoln County students is complicated by the school’s collection of broken instruments and equipment, which makes it difficult to teach musical skills and inspire students to be excited about learning. This school year, Day has a $500 budget for equipment repairs. According to the music teacher, repairing one instrument can cost upwards of $100.
“I have to be very, very deliberate with what I choose to bring in,” Day said.
To help fill the gaps and repair Day’s collection of instruments, former Lincoln County High School students and community members are hosting a benefit concert at Glacier Lanes in Columbia Falls on Dec. 17. Called the “Gift of Song” benefit, the event will include a performance by local band SurfBat, bowling and a raffle. All proceeds will go towards instrument repairs in Day’s classroom.
Dakota Adams, one of the event organizers, got in touch with SurfBat after the band participated in a fundraiser for Hawaiian wildfire relief in September. Adams saw the success of the wildfire relief fundraiser and hoped to rally the community around supporting music education in Lincoln County.
“At the high school, there is an opportunity for a lot of kids who might not have discovered that they have a musical talent be exposed to music and discover a lifelong passion,” Adams said. “That’s hard to do when a low budget has left a lot of the stock of musical instruments below par or outright nonfunctional.”
Day said there are equipment needs “in almost every category” of his classroom. A handful of clarinets and trumpets need some touch-ups. Guitars and amplifiers are broken. Percussion instruments are hurting the most, according to Day, given the banging and hitting that comes along with playing them.
Adams’ sister Sequoia, who is also helping to organize the event, learned to play the bass at Lincoln County High School. She practiced her instrument silently because all of the classroom amplifiers were broken.
Though Day tries to repair instruments himself, he can’t make all the needed fixes. His go-to repair shop is in Kalispell, a sometimes long and tedious trek from Eureka.
“Joshua Day is doing everything that he can to keep up with repairs, especially on the wind instruments, because those are especially fragile and need to be repaired relatively frequently,” Adams said. “It’s a lot for one or two people to keep up with, even if you know how to repair every instrument yourself.”
The broken equipment, Day said, can leave his students feeling “like they’re stranded.”
Both Adams and Day hope the benefit will rally the community together around music education and raise much needed funds.
“I find the charitable spirit expressed by a lot of people in the music scene, especially in the very tight-knit Flathead-area music community, it’s been very encouraging to see all of the work for good causes,” Adams said.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and SurfBat will go on around 7 p.m.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.