Instrumental Dept. Gets by on D.I.Y.

Instrumental teacher, Mr. Kronenberg's repair station for broken instruments. Image by Demmi Delgado.

Instrumental teacher, Mr. Kronenberg’s repair station for broken instruments. Image by Demmi Delgado.

Upon arriving as freshmen at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), new students walk through the heavy glass doors, into the glorious, open atrium and they can tell right away that this school  has the best to offer.

FSSA is fortunate enough to have the support of founder Tony Bennett and his Exploring the Arts (ETA) foundation, however, being equipped with everything you need to succeed in a school like this can be pricey and can make it hard for certain department’s to have enough.

Luckily, the teachers at FSSA have been doing this long enough to know how to budget, bargain and make the best use of their equipment.

Instrumental teacher, Mr. Kronenberg, who has now been at the school for 12 years, says he’s been in the business long enough to learn how to budget, care for, and even repair instruments.

For lack of a better term, he’s a bargain hunter and is not afraid to admit it. When he purchases an old, beaten up instrument, it’s usually out of curiosity for the instrument or for the historical background it may carry.

While the school is equipped with all kinds of instruments, ranging from woodwind instruments, to brass, to a variety of string instruments, Mr. Kronenberg is their sole repairer.

He tells his students that for the four years that they study at Sinatra, he offers his services to them for free.

“My father told me once, when I was much younger, ‘Give onto others, and expect nothing in return,’” says Mr. Kronenberg.

“The instruments have been here since, well, pretty much since the school opened in 2001; they’re old but, I’ve helped teach the students how to take care of their instruments and luckily, 90 percent of them are still in good working condition,” he explains.

Although the instruments do carry some age, students report that teachers go out of their way to fix and better the instruments.

“Yeah, the instruments at school may be old, extremely overused, and a little more annoying to handle, but the teachers help a lot in making sure that our instruments are acceptable and decent enough to practice in,”  says junior bassist Tahj Greaves about the gratitude he has towards his teachers.

“Mr. Kronenberg has a small station in the instrument storage room, it’s really cool, he has tools to repair the instruments himself if he needs to do so, he’s always looking out for the students to make sure we get the best of what we have,” he adds.

Senior violinist, Inaki Herrera, states that he only borrows the school’s violin to practice during school.

“I use my own instrument when I know there’s a blackout day or a performance coming up. I don’t like the hassle of carrying my violin through transit in the morning and afternoon when the school has decent instruments that I can borrow,” he said.

Inaki is fascinated by Mr. K’s process and how he fixes broken instruments.

“Mr. K buys old, beaten up instruments, buys the broken parts separately and repairs them himself with his own tools. It’s so cool to walk past that desk. He’s always working on something; it’s always messy, but yet so organized. He has every tool you could think of, and you can tell he loves repairing them on his own,” he said.

Messy yet organized is definitely the best way to describe that desk. Every tool fits perfectly into its place. They are organized with small, transparent boxes, each with a little sticker to indicate its contents. Even Mr. K’s glasses seem so perfectly placed; and the desk is definitely more exciting to see when it’s in action.

Mr. Kronenberg admits that students can pretty much tell what kind of man he is just by looking at the desk.

“You should see the one I have at home, it’s three times the size of the one at school,” he jokes. “For instrument’s that have been here longer than me, I think the kids are doing a great job in caring for them. They get that it’s not easy, it’s not cheap and it’s not convenient to repair them, that’s why we take care of what we have,” he comments.

Even for students who have to share a woodwind or brass instrument, the school provides mouthpieces for each student if they don’t have their own instrument to practice with.

Although it is very expensive to replace each instrument with a brand new one, teachers do their best to instruct students on maintaining and caring for their borrowed and personally owned instruments.

Even if students find that they can’t afford an instrument, finding the perfect instrument to borrow at the school is not impossible and luckily FSSA has teacher’s who know how to fix them.

– by Demmi Delgado ’17