Reflections from a Championship Week – Band Boosters as “Tribes”

NOTE – this post is from November 2017, however with band camps kicking-off and marching band season ramping-up, we felt it was appropriate to update this post – read on friends…

I had a chance to travel to Indianapolis for Bands of America Grand National Championships last week, and while my thoughts are still in a jumble at 30K feet, I wanted to provide some minor revelations that were realized this past week.

Woodlands-BOA Grand Nationals


Marching Band is it’s own sort of “TRIBE”

The more walking around I did, the more warmups I watched, the more boosters I chatted with over the few days, and the more kids I spoke with, it became quickly apparent that these programs are all pretty much the same.

Some of these groups are very accomplished. It’s easy to get caught up in the size of some of these larger bands, but these kids march, play, drum, and spin their BUTTS OFF. Even at the lower ability levels – and I laud those directors for bringing their kids into this environment knowing that they wouldn’t be making finals on Saturday just for the exposure and experience of it all – these kids all work extremely hard to do the things that the design staff and arrangers ask of them.

The band booster parents all speak the same language, regardless of the differences in band jackets, show t-shirt, or pins-with-a-band-portrait affixed to the outerwear. The more differences you want to talk about from group-to-group, the more I can tell you that these programs are very much the same. Boosters are working hard to fundraise, directors and staffs are trying to stay out of that fray so they can concentrate on rehearsal blocks, dots, feet, notes, counts, etc…




The students may be out of touch a bit…

This point – I’m not completely sure how I feel about it, but please feel free to offer your own thoughts in the comments.

I was making it a habit of asking students throughout the week, “How much fundraising did you have to do to get here this week.” Maybe that question might have been a little misleading, as some programs probably “bake” their BOA trip costs into their activity fees. However, the kids typically replied in a way to indicate that from their vantage point, our district/boosters/school pays for us to be here.

I know that the answer from band boosters and directors was much different. Some of these schools performing some very grandiose programs receive shockingly little from their school districts. Their boosters take on massive fundraising programs in order to make things happen. In some parts of the country, the fees just to join marching band approach $2K (this is an all-inclusive number however either with or without big band trips contained).

It’s not that I think students are wrong – but I think that in some situations, students might be a little out of the loop about what it takes to really put the program on the field, and down the road.

** Note – we blogged about this topic here more recently, and we believe that there is value in bringing the students into more direct alignment with how much the program actually “costs”… **

Maybe that’s by design? It’s possible that some of these programs only want the kids focused on their performing responsibilities and growth?

Personally, I believe that this can still be achieved while making students aware of HOW MUCH goes into funding their collective season. Do we want to create ownership, responsibility, and mindfulness within our students?


If your answer to the above is “YES”, you should probably read this post on how boosters and directors can transition fundraising into a “game” that teaches these ideals…


FansRaise has built a crowdfunding system SPECIFICALLY for the marching, pageantry, and performing arts. Serving THOUSANDS of educators and student participants, FansRaise makes it easier to plan and execute a world-class crowdfunding campaign that might probably be your largest fundraiser of the year.


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