Band experiences in high school can be costly, but the results are worth it. Support Wake Forest High’s band programs with a great evening of comedy tomorrow.
by Clellie Allen
WAKE FOREST — Cost of a sousaphone — $5,000; participation in one season of marching band — $500; learning lessons of responsibility, hard work and dedication? Priceless.
Spend just five minutes with Joel Tucker and his band students at Wake Forest High School, and you’ll be won over to the merits of marching band, wind ensemble, concert band and percussion ensemble.
All the things you want your high schooler to learn before graduating into the big world beyond can be and are learned on the football field, the band room and the concert hall. Things like leadership skills, time management and team work, according to junior Carly Gordon and sophomore Joseph Valentine, both trumpet players.
But more than that, the students learn what it means to belong, to have folks other than their moms and dads care about them and stand behind them.
“This is like a family. It’s what we’ll remember high school for,” said Valentine.
“It’s an opportunity to be more than just a student. We get to actually be on the field (just like the football team), we get to show off all our hard work,” added Gordon. “It’s a rush.”
But for all the life lessons and experiences for which there is no price tag, being a part of marching band itself is quantifiable. And its enough to make you shudder.
Quality instruments are expensive for a start. As most students who end up in marching band in high school actually get started in middle school, the cost of a decent saxophone ($6,000) flute ($2,000) or bass drum ($1,000, drum only) is spread out over as many as six or seven years. Still, one could buy a decent used car for the same amount as some instruments.
Then there are costs associated with uniforms. Typically the school gets a chunk of change every seven or so years for big ticket items like uniforms ($375 each), but there are still the specialized shoes and other extras. The cost of music licensing alone can start at $1,500. And that doesn’t include drill patterns, which can start at $2,000.
Other costs come from things like band camp, a week-long adventure before school starts where the marching band spends eight or more hours a day for a week working through music and drill steps.
If the band wants to compete, and who doesn’t, then there are extra costs for that. Wake Forest’s marching band needs two full buses, in addition to the trailer that has to be pulled by a parent volunteer. The bus costs are $1.50 per mile, per bus, with the drivers costing extra. And that doesn’t cover the entry fees, hotels and meals.
To help cover these costs, the band program at Wake Forest High receives a grand total of $1,200 annually from the school system. And it has to be split between all the music programs.
Although public education is supposed to be fee-free (taxation notwithstanding), extracurriculars are not. For one season of marching band, students have a participation fee of $500, which doesn’t quite cover all the costs. If they want to participate in Winter Guard, the next season of marching band, it’s another $500. There are similar fees associated with percussion and wind ensembles.
While Tucker and his students acknowledge the price to participate is high, the end results are more than worth it.
For every fundraiser the band has to organize, Tucker can point to students who might have dropped out of school if it weren’t for band.
Not only does band give them reason to stay engaged, it probably helps them do better in school.
Multiple studies have shown that students who participate in music performance score significantly better on standardized testing like SATs and have higher percentages of As and Bs.
Those students who go on to major in music can win scholarships or receive stipends for participating in marching band in college.
One study, by the way, showed that music majors were by far the largest group to receive admissions to medical school. That’s worthing tooting for.
Comedy for a cause
One of the most successful fundraisers the band has, is the annual comedy night, in which they partner with the Wake Forest Rotary Club, who came up with the idea, and bring top notch comedic action to town.
This year’s event is tomorrow night, Saturday, in the newly renovated Renaissance Centre, 403 Brooks St., at 6:30 p.m.
The cost is a steal at $25. There will also be live and silent auctions.
Headlining the event is the hilarious and award-winning Andy Forrester along with John Felts and the always pun-y Greg Fischel as the emcee.
Attendees will get a great sampling of what they’re supporting as the Wake Forest High Jazz Band will provide the musical entertainment.
Raffles, hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will also be at hand.
Tickets can be bought at the door or you can reserve a set by e-mailing Brian Burnette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds from the event are split between the marching band and Rotary’s programs which include scholarships for Wake Forest students.