AZTEC — Koogler Middle School is experiencing a shortage of musical instruments as more students are signing up for band, and a music teacher there is asking the public for help.

Band teacher Scott Ryan says enrollment for his two beginning band classes has grown this year. He has 80 students and 30 instruments available for them to use.

"I know there are instruments out there," Ryan said. "They are in closets and under beds, collecting dust. Every band in our area could use instruments."

Due to the popularity of Ryan's beginning band classes, the school added a second class two years ago. Ryan said the total enrollment of the two classes was about 50 students two years ago and 60 students last school year.

Scott Ryan talks to his students on Thursday at Koogler Middle School in Aztec.
Scott Ryan talks to his students on Thursday at Koogler Middle School in Aztec. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

"Fifty, 60 are above average for our area, It's a high number for beginners. For most schools, it's 20-30 students," Ryan said.

Principal Rick Espinoza said interest in the school's fine arts program is skyrocketing and watching the band grow has been gratifying. Espinoza said he likes that Ryan is reaching out to the community seeking instruments that are not in use and could help the public schools.

"Students living the love of music (can become) a lifelong endeavor. That should and is being fostered on our campus," Espinoza said. "Times are tough and all the kind donations will mean more opportunity for our local student musicians."

Ryan has asked parents who are able to rent or purchase an instrument for their student to consider that option rather than using a school instrument.

Ryan said he has confidence they'll find enough instruments for the students. The last thing he wants to do is turn students away and have them enroll in a different class due to a lack of instruments, he said.

"I don't want to have a kid take something else when they'd rather be in here," Ryan said.

Having 80 beginning band students spread across two classes can be a lot of work but Ryan said the work is worth it when he hears his students connect with the music.

Scott Ryan works with his students on Thursday during beginning band class at Koogler Middle School in Aztec.
Scott Ryan works with his students on Thursday during beginning band class at Koogler Middle School in Aztec. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

"Sometimes people ask me after the first week we start playing, 'How do you put up with that?'" Ryan said. "I know what it's going to like in May. I know what they'll sound like in the future."

Instrument donations for Koogler Middle School can be dropped off at the front office during the school day.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.