Case Examine: Increasing the Footprint of a Storied Music Program

In the summertime of 2018, I started my tenure because the director of bands at Shelby County Excessive Faculty (SCHS) in Columbiana, Alabama.

Columbiana is the county seat of the smaller of two counties that make up the larger Birmingham space.

SCHS has a protracted historical past of superior efficiency in all points of the band program, however I needed to widen its footprint. My first process was assembly with the band boosters, our main fundraising and assist group. I instructed them that I needed to take this system to new heights.

My first query: “What’s our most urgent want as a band program?” The reply was not a shock — funding!

The band boosters traditionally raised sufficient cash to fund this system’s vital tools and desires. The first supply of funds was the concession stand from soccer video games, and in complete, the boosters introduced in just below $20,000. Band members paid a participation payment that primarily financed the marching band season. A number of additional {dollars} went towards live performance band-related bills, resembling music and journey to state assessments and honor bands. Little cash was left for vital purchases.

Should-Have: New Uniforms

Nonetheless, the boosters needed extra, and admittedly, our program wanted extra, particularly new uniforms and devices. Our first assault plan was uniforms. In 2018, the marching band uniforms have been 18 years outdated. The everyday lifespan of a uniform is 7 to 9 years, which meant that the SCHS college students have been marching in uniforms that have been twice their age. All through the years, the band program added newer fashions of the identical design, however everybody was prepared for a brand new look.  

Shelby County High School band entering football field for performance The varsity yr started with band camp, and I hit the bottom working by attending to know the scholars and neighborhood members. On the conclusion of the autumn semester, the boosters had raised their concession stand cash for the yr, however we nonetheless wanted extra money. Going round our small city, I met many individuals who needed to assist the band. I spoke with my administration about launching a fundraising capital marketing campaign to donate for brand spanking new uniforms. I made a decision to ship sponsorship letters, which included incentives to companies. These companies would have the chance to have their names/logos displayed at video games, on our web site and at different public show areas. Moreover, I added incentives for fogeys and college students to exit and safe these sponsorships. We cut up the donations 50/50, that means the scholar who offered the sponsorship obtained 50% of the funds directed towards their band account. The opposite 50% went to our uniform marketing campaign. In two months, greater than $17,000 was raised by way of this marketing campaign, placing our complete for uniform funding over what we wanted. 

With the mix of booster fundraised cash from the concession stand and the sponsorships, we ordered 65 new uniforms for the marching band for the 2019 season. There was even extra cash to buy a sound system to amplify our entrance ensemble, resulting in a brand new program factor. 

Securing Grants for Newbie Devices

Now it was time to deal with the following drawback. To considerably increase and develop this system, we needed to enhance enrollment in our decrease ranges with a main deal with the newbie degree.

In the beginning of the 2019-2020 college yr, our faculty district’s nice arts supervisor emailed all of the nice arts academics a few grant alternative by our state division of training. The grant program, Alabama Artwork Training Initiative, is about up by the laws to supply colleges and neighborhood organizations the chance to use for grant cash to fund arts applications. Over a three-year course of, every program can obtain as much as $40,000 to use to their college or group tasks.

I started to formulate my concept however wasn’t positive how one can develop the phrases. I researched and located this writing immediate: You’re a superhero. How will you save the world?

That immediate was a lightbulb second for me. I had discovered a solution to craft my grant utility. I targeted on funding devices for all newbie band college students for center college. Why? As a result of extra starting band college students would result in excessive attendance charges, which might result in extra scholar involvement in highschool. Extra highschool involvement results in larger commencement charges and take a look at scores, when then results in extra scholarships for faculty college students. Extra school graduates within the space results in an financial growth locally, which might flip into the next way of life. You’ll be able to see how I considered this as saving the world, a minimum of our little nook of the world. 

Shelby County High School band and color guard performing on football fieldThe primary yr of the grant supplied $16,000, 20% of which needed to go to skilled improvement. With these funds, I deliberate to restore all college devices, in order that they might be used, and buy some new devices to start out a provide to supply college students. With grand funds within the subsequent years, I’d add to the gathering of devices.

I completed writing the grant utility and submitted it on Halloween 2019 and thought, “There isn’t any manner I’ll get this.” I had by no means obtained a grant earlier than, and all I might do was wait and hope.   

Virtually 4 months later, we lastly heard again. We had been chosen as one of many recipients of the grant! I don’t understand how I made it to the entrance workplace, however I’m positive my screaming down the halls disrupted all of the AP lessons that meet outdoors my band room.

We shared the information, and I began prepping the stock and buying new devices. With this extra funding and the financial savings from the capital marketing campaign, the boosters had extra cash on the finish of the 2019 concession stand season. We determined to make use of these funds to usher in non-public instructors for masterclasses as soon as every week for every part.

Every part was going remarkably nicely — we had new uniforms, new tools, free newbie devices, non-public instructors, neighborhood backing, and the band was scheduled to go to New York and Disney. Our footprint was increasing and at a a lot sooner price than I had thought doable.

Then COVID-19 struck, and every part stopped. 

Pandemic Positives

As an alternative of dwelling on the adverse side of COVID-19, I wish to have a look at how the SCHS band program improved in the course of the pandemic. The scholars grew musically as a result of we spent much more time engaged on fundamentals and constructing our particular person expertise. After we lastly got here collectively in January 2021 as a full ensemble, we carried out at the next degree. 

Financially, we allotted extra grant cash for extra devices as a result of skilled studying within the conventional sense had been placed on maintain. In consequence, we now have a extra intensive instrument stock for the center college.

And eventually, COVID-19 has allowed me to reevaluate music training and the psychological well being of my college students. Performances are important, however I discovered that particular person achievement results in an impressive total efficiency. Whereas we didn’t carry out within the normal manner this yr, our moments collectively have been memorable and have led to actual development in this system. Extra SCHS college students have made county, district and state-level honor bands than in earlier years, and the band was invited to carry out on the nationwide degree on the 2022 President’s Cup, which is sponsored by the U.S. Military’s “Pershing’s Personal” Band

Due to the reset of the 2020-2021 college yr, I’ve targeted on recruiting and constructing on what we have now. I secured extra grant cash this college yr so as to add to the newbie program instrument stock on the center college and begin funding the highschool with 50 extra uniforms, bringing the full to 115 uniforms. The newbie program now affords sufficient devices for the next instrumentation for newbie degree, with plans to increase every year: 

  • 4 flutes
  • 1 oboe
  • 9 clarinets
  • 3 alto sax
  • 1 tenor sax
  • 10 trumpets
  • 2 French horns
  • 8 trombones (3 are F attachment horns)
  • 2 euphoniums
  • 3 tubas 
  • 4-6 percussion 

All in all, greater than 45 college students can take part within the newbie band on the center college without spending a dime. If the numbers proceed to develop for newbie band, the full 6-12 music program will double in dimension in subsequent 4 years. 

Along with the $52,500 in grants that I secured in two years, the boosters now not have the monetary burden of funding uniforms and tools wants. Additionally they do not need to fund skilled studying for 2 years. In consequence, they bought 4 new live performance tubas and a contrabass clarinet for the highschool program, a purchase order that might not have been doable with out the earlier fundraising efforts. The discharge from monetary burden is permitting the band program to flourish on the center college and SCHS. 

New Faculty 12 months, New Present

Shelby County High School band members wearing masks and performing Dia de los Muertos routineSubsequent college yr, the marching band might be again up and working at full capability with a brand new present known as “Royals of Rock.” We are going to chronicle a performer’s journey to grow to be a rock legend by studying from the masters like Chuck Berry, the Beatles and Queen, all whereas being combined in with Lorde’s “Royals.” We may have a full touring schedule and plan to take the following step and compete at our state championship contest. We may have extra instrumentalists on the sector than within the 4 earlier college years — and in new uniforms! Our Symphonic Band will carry out for the primary time on the nationwide stage in April 2022.  College students might be taking part in on high-quality devices from grades 6-12 and might be given weekly classes by a few of the prime musicians within the space.

I nonetheless keep in mind responding to the band boosters with an enthusiastic, “OK, we will do that!” We’ve achieved rather a lot in two years, however there’s nonetheless extra I plan to do to enhance the SCHS music program.