Instrument rentals drop at Hoffman Music as SPS students transition to remote learning

SPOKANE, Wash. — Many things are changing as students head back to school. Music classes won’t be the same. Students can’t play together on a big stage or hear a crowd roar during a half-time show.

It’s a challenge Spokane Public Schools is working around. Hoffman Music is feeling the challenge as well. Last school year, they rented out about 500 instruments.

“This year, so far we have done very little,” said Earl Smith, president of Hoffman Music. “That’s a large portion of our business, so that’s a worry.”

A worry that’s a hard pill to swallow, especially for something that’s meant to bring people together. Because of social distancing, it’s not possible right now.

“The sense of camaraderie and being in a band and stuff like that is so important,” said Schuyler Dornbirer, a guitar salesman at Hoffman Music. “It is definitely frightful to know that that could be something that we don’t see for a little while.”

Dornbirer said some kids who come into the store get to play their first note.

“I absolutely love to get to show somebody their first squeak or whatever it is,” he said.

Media and Marketing Specialist of SPS, Ally Barrera, said details about music classes are being worked out and more information should be available next week.

However, she said “SPS values the music education experience and plan to continue to provide classes that build on the students’ knowledge.”

A band teacher at Lewis and Clark High School said SPS has adopted a program that will be used for middle and high school students. It’s called Smart Music.

“It’s a practice, partner-type program where the kids can be online with the program and we can assign the music that we’re working on,” said Dan Nord.

He said the program will give immediate feedback and help students fix any issues with their instrument.

Though it doesn’t replace the fact that students can’t be together, Nord said it still has its benefits.

“I think it would be a really healthy thing just in their day,” he said. “Just to stay balanced and to stay focused in all those things.”

Though the future is uncertain, Hoffman Music wants your family to enjoy what music has to offer.

“Try anything and everything,” Dornbirer said. “If flute is not cutting it, if trumpet’s not cutting it — come out here and play guitar. Try something different.”

LIST: School districts determine back to school plans

READ: Spokane Public Schools plans to push back start of school year by two weeks