El Paso, Texas-- After seeing an increase in student sign ups for percussion class but not enough drums for the students, Canyon Hills middle schools band director, Nathan Eby, got creative to make sure every student could perform in the winter concert.
“The reason why I love music and why I love teaching music is for the simple reason that everyone can succeed in music,” said Eby.
Eby has been the band director at Canyon Hills middle school for three years now. The band program has changed a lot since he first stepped into his new role. The biggest change happened during the pandemic.
Canyon Hills band program usually only serves 70 to 80 students but that number nearly doubled just one year into Mr. Eby’s new role
“So when I got there and I saw these number of students I was like, oh no I only have a certain number of instruments and I have to serve 130 students," said Eby, "What am I gonna do?”
That question would be answered all thanks to a Firehouse sub date night.
"I was eating there one night with my wife and I said, hey that's cool. There's a jug," said Eby, "In elementary music schools they play on jugs all the time so why cant we do that here."
The jugs were empty pickle buckets that Eby knew he needed to get to ensure that the extra students in his percussion class could perform at their Winter concert.
"The face that the lady made at Firehouse subs when I said to give me 19 pickle buckets and handed her $100 bill was like uhhhhhhh what?”
Despite the shortage of instruments for students, Mr. Eby was able to find a way to make sure his students were still getting the education they deserved.
"Our program is growing and we have more students and we're not getting the support we need to support our students but the demand on us is still the same," said Eby. "We have to be very inventive because I want to serve all my students. I don't want one student to be in that program that does not succeed cause they dont have the means to.”
For Mr. Eby, the ultimate goal is to create a college pipeline for all of his students through music.
“If I can do that for one of my students that's a goal met. If I can do that for all of my students then that's the dream.”