SUCCESS! West Seattle High School musicians get new tuba by busking for bucks


We published that video on the first day of this year’s West Seattle Summer Fest, as band members from West Seattle High School played another streetcorner gig to raise money for a new tuba. Today, Maxwell Lemke – at right in the clip – e-mailed WSB to share the good news: They reached their $1,100 goal and got the tuba!

Tuba 1

Maxwell sent that photo of himself (with the tuba) along with his fellow fundraising musicians – Ellie Monroe on trombone, Maximillian Czerwinski on alto sax, Ben Schuh on trumpet, and WSHS music director Ethan Thomas. He also mentioned they had purchased the tuba from Steve Twitchell, who Maxwell met last spring via the West Seattle Community Orchestras:

I sat next to him at rehearsals and one time he mentioned that he had a tuba that he’d been trying to get off his hands; when I asked about it he said that he’d be willing to lend it out to the school for use until we’d have enough money to properly buy it from him. In the back of my head I knew I wanted to get the tuba and I also knew that the way to get it should be through busking (playing music out on the street for money). So in total we went out 19 times; for the first couple times it was just me playing the school’s sousaphone on my own down on Alki, but one day one of my friends that played french horn, Connor Deidrich, passed me and said, “We oughta play together and make a whole band out of this”(paraphrasing).

So I recruited my trumpet and alto sax players and we ran over some of the marching band music we already know and decided that that music would be the key to our success, but a big issue for use was having a reliable trombone player. There were always a couple people here and there that were willing to pitch in for a day or two; we had a tenor sax player, Kevin Corona, that played with us for a long bit before his instrument broke, leaving him unable to play with us for a good chunk of the summer. Overall the first couple weeks were the sketchiest, and it wasn’t until after the first baseball game we busked at that I really felt comfortable and sure that we could make this happen; that was also around the end of the school year, about the same time our first permanent trombone player Ellie Monroe joined us.

Since then we’ve also bought a few marching band songs for the school, arrangements of “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes and “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. I’m going to be a senior this next year and I was thinking that I’d use this as part of my senior project but I’m not entirely sure how I’d present it yet. The goal of the tuba was to accommodate for an expanding low brass section that didn’t have the proper funds to get a tuba in the first place (did you know that the school only gives $300 a year to the music department to spread across 4 different classes? I want to say that MOST of the money at the school’s music department is made through fundraising). The only real “donations” [outside the busking fundraisers] were from two of my family members, my mom and my sister, both giving $50 each even though they live out of state and might never be able to hear us play.

As you know if you are a regular WSB reader, the same dilemma is faced by other extracurricular programs including some sports, and we often bring you word of fundraising events and donation requests. None quite like this one, though.

P.S. Maxwell says you can donate to the WSHS Music program by going here (scroll down the page).

8 Replies to "SUCCESS! West Seattle High School musicians get new tuba by busking for bucks"

  • Question Mark August 15, 2016 (3:25 pm)

    Life’s little lessons: It’s always about trying to find a reliable trombone player …

    Go sousaphones!

  • Clark Bathum August 15, 2016 (3:26 pm)

    I was lucky to have most of these fantastic young musicians in my band at Madison MS. They are a great reminder to all of us what we can accomplish when we have a great attitude and work together!! 

    They are truly inspiring.

    Clark Bathum

    Music Director 

    Madison Middle School


  • jkpatman August 15, 2016 (4:26 pm)

    way to go, wildcats!

    that’s the way to show the community that you’ve got not only determination but musical prowess! 

    can’t wait to hear that tuba in action during the school year.

  • Y-Ma August 15, 2016 (5:07 pm)

    Oh YAY!

    I heard them busking on the corner during the West Seattle Street Fair & game ’em the cash I had on hand. Music  – marching band, jazz, mariachi, chorus & all the arts – SO important! You want to talk about discipline & trusting your team-mates?  Try marching in ranks.

    • enviromaven August 16, 2016 (11:36 am)

      Y-Ma, I’m so with you on this.  Thanks for speaking out!

  • Trickycoolj August 15, 2016 (8:47 pm)

    From a former oboe player that also relied on a school horn I can’t love these kids’ determination enough! Some of the less common instruments are far too costly to rent/buy even for well off families and it’s so important for the school to have high quality working instruments to fill out the ensemble properly and give students the chance to excel and be eligible for scholarships.

  • Junction Lady August 15, 2016 (9:28 pm)

    Cool story!

  • Junction Mom too August 16, 2016 (10:37 am)

    Some of these kids would busk and then turn around and march in parades the same day.  So proud of them and their determination!  Go Band!

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