The Smoke Signal

The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

Sanjana Sivakumar, Journalist

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Ripon High School was founded in 1910, but there is something in this school, or more precisely, the band room, that is way older. Geoffrey Felver, the music director, has a tuba that is more than 123 years old. To all the music kids, this tuba is known as “The Old Man” because of its condition. According to the Conn Selmer Database, the tuba was built around 1895, and the two sousaphones still used are from 1897.

“This [tuba] is one of our school instruments. This is what we use to play on in band,” Felver said. “This is what a student uses every day to play band.”

So, a tuba that was built in 1895, and that is a century and two decades old, is being used everyday for  band class. Every day, a person in band is playing an instrument that has a large but unknown history.

“I had two different reactions: I had one reaction as a musician where I thought ‘wow how cool and neat that this instrument has survived for so long and that it still plays and stuff.’ That’s really cool from a historical perspective,” Felver said. “And as a teacher, I am outraged as our students have to play on equipment that is older than our school.”

Even though the history of the tuba is unknown, Felver has many theories. One being that it was donated to the school by someone from the military.

The Ripon High Band from 1936. The three arrows point towards the sousaphone (Tuba).

“Because my theory is that this was an old military brass instrument in a military brass band because those were present throughout the United States,” Felver stated. “So this was probably donated to the school, by either a member or a military band group who had new instruments or something. They probably gave their old instruments to the school considering it was founded in 1911.”

It is surprising that the extremely old instrument still plays. There are some dents and scratches along the tuba but other than that, it’s in great shape. The strap for the tuba is broken, but still, the condition of the tuba through all these years is amazing.

“The valves are very loud. Being so old, its gotten dings and scratches and what not, and the bells all bent and torn up. But parts of it are punched in and that’s going to affect how the instrument plays,” Felver said. “It probably has leaks in the valve… who knows when it was last cleaned because mold and stuff can grow inside of it.”

National music and arts programs have struggled due to cuts in education after the Great Recession. To help with this situation, parents came together and took initiative, creating the Band Booster Club in 2016 to support music for the entire district.

“Music programs in general need a lot of money to run. It’s not just sitting in the room playing,” Felver stated. “For proper music education, you need to be listening and go out and see live performances. You have to be exposed to other ensembles.”

The Band Boosters Club is purchasing a new sousaphone for the high school and is the reason why the band was able to go to Washington D.C. to perform in the Parade of Heroes over Veterans Day Weekend last year and to Disneyland to perform in previous years. The band was hoping to go to Hawaii to participate in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, however, it would have cost about a $100,000 to send 50 students for one week.

“We couldn’t have gone to D.C. without them. They raised about 50 thousand dollars last year,” Felver said. “But this year there are fewer people, so I had to cut the Hawaii trip.”

You can support the Band Booster Club by joining the club, which meets the first Wednesday of every month. Other ways people can support this club is by purchasing merchandise during their yard sale at Ripon Elementary during Main Street day. The Booster Club is also selling cotton candy during home football games.

“Band Boosters is really one of the only things that’s supporting us,” Felver claimed.

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    November: Bringing Awareness to Dia-BEATING the Disease

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    This DUDE. is Nice

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    What’s Cookin’ in the Kitchen

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    A Harder Race, Denham All

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    November Student A.C.E. of the Month

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    November Staff A.C.E. of the Month

  • Community

    Creepy Cart: Episode 2

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    Who We Are

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    All that Glitters is Not Gold

  • The Really Old History of “The Old Man”

    Community

    Let’s Celebrate!

Navigate Right
The Student News Site of Ripon High School
The Really Old History of “The Old Man”