New Band Director Revitalizes SHHS’s Music Program with Community Support

At the start of the school year, the Sweet Home High School (SHHS) saw a not so new teacher enter into the band program. The experienced Lori Tuter has continued to set new goals for the band program. Along with tremendous support from the community and the school district, Tuters’ program has proved successful, having one student make it to first chair during All State. 

Tuter has been a new addition to the program, but her experience in music is drastically different. Tuter actually participated in the exact program she is now teaching. Along with formerly being apart of the program, Tuter has a degree in music education and over 15 years of musical instruction experience. 

She’s taken this experience to build the program she’s taken over. 

“To build, to make it a place where kids want to be, so more kids will want to be in the program,” Tuter said when speaking about goals. “We started with small numbers, we have increased by quite a bit this year.”

Tuter acknowledged the life-long goal of continuing to build the program. But with enormous support from the district and the community, Tuter was able to purchase many instruments to benefit the program. 

The band program has received an astounding amount of support from donations. Those totaling around $20,000 just since September. Most of those donations went to allowing students the opportunity with newer equipment and even borrowing equipment to use, and take home to practice. Tuter has nothing but thanks, praises, and appreciation for all the donations received. 

According to Tuter, there were donations of instruments, but with the cash donations, clarinets, flutes, small percussion instruments and even saxophones were purchased. The money did not just go to these features, some of the money was even spent on repairs for damaged or broken instruments. Some of the needed repairs were in instruments such as, one baritone, two bass clarinets and one bassoon. 

“The bass clarinet, we have two, each of those clarinets costs a thousand dollars just to repair,” Tuter said. “The money that is required is tremendous.” 

The program isn’t just relying on these donations however, as the district has continued in their support of the program and their growth. Both, principal Ralph Brown and superintendent Terry Martin are both very supportive of the program. 

“I’ve been very supportive of music in general my whole career,” Brown said. “When the opportunity arose, she came forward and has done wonderfully.” 

At the beginning of the year, Tuter had three to four students who joined the program, who had zero previous participation in any band program prior to them joining. She’s hoping to increase this number as the years progress. 

As of lately, the band was seen performing during the 2024 graduation, performing multiple different songs on June 7. Looking forward, there are three school concerts planned, and Tuter is hoping to perform in the community, in the Christmans parade, and participate in the district festival. 

“Kids really can do cool things,” Tuter said. She attributed the band program to different things each kid can benefit from, from being in the program. “Kids are gaining confidence, gaining social skills and a family that supports them.” 

Two students were able to take these skills, and their abilities to the next step. Both Zola Carlyle and Jaycey Brunson participated in Music in May, an annual festival that requires selection processes to be accepted from Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Music in May is held at the Pacific University of Oregon. 

There are still things the program does need. Tuter is hoping for donations for concert uniforms, for the kids to wear during district performances as well as any other performances. If interested, anyone can donate by contacting Lori Tuter at SHHS.