Foothiller music program director brings attention to decaying instruments

Courtesy Photo. Grossmont High School’s marching band shows off their brass.

As its 99th school year begins, Grossmont High School has 1,700 students enrolled in its Visual and Performing Arts programs, the largest number in the Grossmont Union High School District.

The large number of students in so many wonderful programs, like the Instrumental Music program, make it difficult to fund them adequately.  Unfortunately, however, Visual and Performing Arts programs are underfunded in public education national wide.

Since its beginning, the Instrumental Music Program has been an essential part of Grossmont High School. In 1921, the orchestra consisted of 17 students with the first band in 1930. Today, the historic 99-year old program has become a program dependent on decades old instruments. In a letter emailed to GHS Alumni and Retirees this summer, program director Ray Webb explained the need for financial support to purchase large instruments.

“Large instruments form the foundation of a ‘sound pyramid’ that must always be at the core of our big beautiful ‘Grossmont Sound,’” wrote Webb. “We need your help to continue to create this legacy.”

Webb said larger instruments do not tend to be student-owned because of their expensive nature, some costing as much as $6,000. As a result, many of these large instruments are owned by the district and, currently, many are “severely distressed or unusable condition.”

“We are looking for financial support to fund large instruments,” Webb continued. “We now have four tuba players! It’s great that our band is growing! These players all need replacement marching and concert tubas (two instruments each). With an average cost of $9,000 each for a quality tuba or a quality sousaphone, the cost to outfit our 4 tuba players with one each is $72,000.”

This year, Webb said, there are four baritone horn players, two baritone sax players, two tenor sax players as well as a variety of musicians working percussion instruments. There simply are not enough working instruments to go around, wrote Webb. Marching baritone horns can be acquired for $2,300, but a quality concert baritone can cost up to $6,300.

“However, to solve our immediate problem, we can buy used instruments from private sellers for as low as 10 percent of their original cost,” wrote Webb. “Already, I have purchased one instrument this summer for one third of its value. Also, this summer we have received over $7,000 in financial support from our alumni, retired staff, and the GHS Educational Foundation. I hope our community can help us build a larger fund that could be accessed for purchases from private sellers, managed and overseen by the GIMA (Grossmont Instrumental Music Association) Treasurer.”

All donations are tax deductible. To support the purchase of needed instruments, please write a check payable to GIMA and mail to Raymond Webb, GHS, P.O. Box 1043, La Mesa, CA 91944. Webb can also be contacted at

Also, if you know of someone with a quality musical instruments to donate or to sell in Southern California, please ask the donor to contact Ray directly.  Readers are encouraged to share this column with friends who value the positive impact of music upon students. Together we can help support a program that has given so many Foothillers and its community such pleasure over the past 98 years.

“No donation is too small,” wrote Webb.