The bass drum came from the county dump. The snare drum came from the high school - grabbed just before it was thrown out. Some of the horns came from parents and even from grandparents. A few instruments were bought or are being rented; some came as a donation from Summerhays Music.
But the sound comes straight from the heart.The Spring City Elementary School sixth-grade band may have been pieced and patched together, but the students make up for it with enthusiasm and good cheer.
"Band rules!" they say. "Every school should have a band!" "Every band should have a teacher like Mr. Black!"
The band got all the instruments together - one for each of the 33 students - by the middle of last October. On Dec. 22, they gave their first concert. Now, playing such songs as "Newcastle Overture," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Colonel Bogey," they are getting ready for a middle-school competition April 28 and to play at a teachers' conference in Cedar City.
The sixth-grade class meets in a trailer in back of the school; half of the building is used as the band room, where students practice 45 or so minutes a day. "It's an ideal situation," principal Darryl White said.
Without band the students say school would be "boring, dull, stupid." They like the feelings of achievement they get from learning songs and playing music. They talk about how band helps with other studies: reading music helps with reading books; half-notes and quarter-notes are just like fractions; performing helps build confidence. Above all, the music makes them happy.
"Without music, we wouldn't have the rhythm of life; that's what it's all about," teacher Mike Black says.
This is the first year for the band, but in the past two years, music has become an important part of the curriculum at Spring City Elementary School, a small school with only 151 students located just off Highway 89 about 25 miles north of Manti.
"It actually started when a parent came in to complain that we weren't doing enough with the arts," White explained.
That led to a parents committee, to meetings with specialists from the State Office of Education. "They talked about the possibilities and helped us write grants," White said. The school received grant money, which they used to help buy CDs and rhythm instruments.
They decided that music would be their first emphasis. "Next year we'll bring in visual arts. And after that theater," White said.
Each class has a part of its curriculum devoted to music. In the first three grades, the emphasis is on learning rhythm and steady beat and singing simple songs.
Kathy Dyches' first-graders clap along to "I Belong to This Band." They then march around in circles, keeping time to the music with simple instruments. Sandra Beck's third-graders move around in a circle so each student gets a chance to use each instrument - drum, tambourine or triangle.
In fourth and fifth grades, students learn to play the recorder. The fourth-graders have mastered "Shortenin' Bread" and "Jingle Bells." The fifth-graders put forth a credible rendition of "Ode to Joy."
It's a sequential program, White says, with each grade doing harder things, leading up to the band.
And, he says, it adds a lot to the school. They've had a lot fewer discipline problems. And he thinks it helps students relax, it helps develop coordination and it helps learning in other areas.
"We're learning a lot about how teaching the arts enhances other learning. It's like getting two for the price of one," he said.
Principal White is not alone in thinking that there is a connection between music and learning. A growing body of research focuses on how music affects the brain and the development of skills and intelligence.
The most famous of these studies is probably that done by psychologist Frances Rauscher of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and physicist Gordon Shaw of the University of California at Irvine. They found that music training - specifically piano instruction - is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills that are necessary for learning math and science.
First published in the February 1977 issue of Neurological Research, the two-year study tracked three groups of preschoolers. One group received private piano or keyboard lessons; another private computer lessons; and the third received no training. The children who received the music training scored 34 percent higher on tests measuring spatial and temporal ability than the others.
"These findings indicate that music enhances higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering," they said.
Research at the University of Konstanz in Germany, reported in Newsweek magazine in February, shows that exposure to music requires neural circuits in the brains, and concluded that the best learning window for music is from ages 3 to 10; few concert-level performers begin playing later than age 10, researchers said.
A study by Donald Hodges, professor of music at the University of Texas at San Antonio and reported in the American School Board Journal, demonstrated through the use of such techniques as magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography what goes on inside the brain as people listen to music.
"Music actually changes the organization of the brain," Hodges said.
His images show that music is distributed across locally specialized regions on both sides of the brain, pulling together both brain hemispheres - not just the right side, as has been commonly thought.
Anecdotal evidence of the value of music in education is also strong. No less than Albert Einstein credited his early musical training for the development of some of his scientific theories. He first started working on the idea of optics in motion when he was 16, and he later said, "It occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind intuition. My new discovery is the result of musical perception."
And local banker Grant Hurst, a member of the Utah Board of Education, has noted: "When I was a kid, I wasn't a jock. No one asked me to be on their basketball or football team. But I knew the difference between an A and a B flat and I could play the sax, and other kids looked up to me. Education is about finding out what each individual does best. For some that is the arts. I use what I learned in theater and music every day as a banker."
Still, the battle for funding goes on. A national survey by the music journal The Instrumentalist in 1997 found that half of the money for music programs in the schools came from outside fund raising, often by parents.
The bass drum came from the county dump, and they hope to raise enough money to buy a drum stand so it doesn't have to be balanced on a folding chair. The piano player sits on a desk so she can reach the piano keys. Other teachers have donated money to help buy the sheet music. But the band's sound is starting to be heard in many places.
Spring City Elementary is a small school, but it has the only sixth-grade band in the district. It is largely an agricultural community, with a number of people who also work in nearby coal mines. Resources are limited, but enthusiasm is high.
"Everyone is watching us. If our band is successful, the program could spread to others," White said. "Almost weekly, we have someone who wants to come and watch."