When it comes to asking for special funding for a music program, I have always taken the approach that “you’ll never get what you don’t ask for.” (Sort of a variation on the basketball phrase “You’ll miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.”) I have given a wish list to my principals/administrators almost every year, and it has definitely been worth the effort.
We all know that some principals have little interest in the arts, but many have musical backgrounds in their own lives. They may be more willing than you might expect to do what they can to support your program. Sometimes they can afford just a little for basic supplies, but sometimes they can afford more for instruments.
By using the phrase “wish list,” I give my principals the option to say no, but it does give them the opportunity to offer some funding if they are so inclined. Believe it or not, I have actually had an administrator tell me, “I’m glad you asked. I’ve got some extra money I need to get spent quickly.”
On my wish lists, I make sure to include items at a few different price points. Again, this gives them the opportunity to respond, “Well, we can’t afford those new timpani, but we could probably get a new trumpet and some sheet music.”
The whole concept of not getting what you don’t ask for has other applications besides funding. Administrators often operate in sort of a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” mode, so they’re not likely to solve any problems they don’t know about. If you have a problem which can only be address by the administration, such as facility maintenance, scheduling, access to students, etc., make sure your administration knows.