When an instrument is broken, instrumentalists have some options for repair within Athens. 

To prepare for a future in music education, Sam Miller decided to take apart a flute, a saxophone and a clarinet to learn more about the necessary skill.

“I know how to repair minor fixes,” Miller, a senior studying music education who plays the saxophone, said. “That includes adjusting saxophone pads, clarinet pads and a few flute fixes. I can’t do much off of the flute. I know as a future band director, I (will) have to do minor repairs.”

Miller said having basic skills and knowing where to send a broken instrument is essential, especially for someone who is planning to be a music educator.

Josh Boyer, the assistant director of the Marching 110, said the School of Music has had a system of instrument repair in place for more than two years. It involves sending the instruments to the Lancaster branch of the C.A. House Music, a music company with three Southeast Ohio branches and one in Parkersburg. Every week during Spring Semester, a person from C.A. House comes to Ohio University to pick up broken instruments from the School of Music. 

Prior to having the system in place, Boyer said the School of Music used to have an in-house repair technician who was responsible for repairing instruments. Although the school no longer has a repair technician, Boyer said the School of Music still has a room with parts and pieces needed for emergency repairs. 

The first step to take after an instrument breaks, Boyer said, is to find him and see if the instrument is repairable without needing to send it to a shop. 

“I try to handle anything I can here,” Boyer said. “It doesn’t cost (the student) anything and it doesn’t cost me anything and doesn’t cost the school anything. It’s just parts and pieces that we have here.”

Different items in the room are restocked based on necessity, Boyer said.

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“We try to handle anything major as soon as it happens, like a trombone slide getting dented. We’ll send that in immediately, so it doesn’t get worse,” Boyer said. “Some of the other little minor cosmetic stuff, we can wait.”

Following the Marching 110 fall season, instruments are collected and evaluated to see what needs repaired, Boyer said. He added that the instruments are then sent to C.A. House in preparation for the next season.

Professors are understanding if an instrument break, but Boyer said typically, students are responsible for finding a backup. Friends tend to lend instruments, and the School of Music also has some instruments that can be loaned out, he added.

The School of Music has some instruments set aside that can be loaned out until a student's personal instrument is available, Boyer said, but the instruments are designed to be used for learning and would not be fit for an important performance.

Outside of the School of Music, instruments can be repaired Uptown. Frank McDermott, owner of Blue Eagle Music, said some minor repairs are done at the shop out of necessity.

“When you sell instruments, people are going to need things done to them and adjusted, so it’s just part of the business,” he said.

A general guitar tune up and stringing costs $20 plus the cost of strings and includes cleaning the fingerboard, adjusting the neck and restringing, he said. McDermott said he learned repairs from years of playing and from the former owners of the shop.

Yvonne Staton, a junior studying music therapy who plays the oboe, said some repairs are less urgent. Staton said her oboe has a minor crack, which could spread, but the instrument is still usable. She said having an instrument repaired can be expensive, and some people try different “remedies” instead, such as using super glue to fix a crack.

Sarah Balderson, a senior studying music education who plays the flute, said many flutists in the School of Music send their instruments to a flute repair technician in Columbus for fixes. She added that having a course within the School of Music would be beneficial, especially for music education majors.

“I think we need a course like that,” Balderson said. “Everything I’ve learned has been secondhand from teachers in the field now. I learned how to re-cork a saxophone at a band camp this summer.”