When lack of budget impacts the marching program…


I was nearing the end of my first year of teaching, and the principal’s assistant left me a message to pop on down to the office.


Although I was an older college graduate (I took some years off to work full-time before completing my degree), I would be lying if I said that sweaty palms and a pit in my stomach had to do with a bad cafeteria lunch.


Turns out – it was awesome news.


I was hired to resurrect a high school band program that was solid, but was once an unstoppable powerhouse on the marching band field as well as the concert stage.  I taught the principal’s daughter at a neighboring school as band instructor, so I guess that gave me a leg up in the hiring process.  My first year was a success, but not without difficulties in stepping into a transitioning program.


The principal asked me an unexpected question.  “What do you think of our marching band uniforms?”


The uniforms were a virtual clone of LSU’s uniform, just to give you an idea.  Mustard-gold and black pants.


I tried to choose my words carefully, but I said something to the effect of “They’re OK and served us well, but if I had a chance to, I’d design something different.”


The principal agreed – he was fishing for just that sort of feedback.  Turns out, he grabbed some unallocated funds from several athletic and activity accounts and pulled together enough money to purchase a new set of uniforms.


I’ve relayed this anecdote several times to directors I know and none of them can believe it.  I will swear to it on a stack of conductor scores.




On the other extreme, I once decided to implement a wind ensemble as a stretch group (by audition only).  I had a deep enough group of instrumentalists where I could pull off a select band and a general concert band without gutting one or the other.  I was in dire need of french horn players, so I went recruiting.  I found a couple of very solid trumpet players that wanted a change of scenery, and all told I had 6 players lined up, but only 3 working instruments.


The same principal told me “Recruit the kids and we’ll figure it out.”  Unfortunately, we never did find the money and I lost the interest of a couple of them.  It wasn’t from a lack of WANTING TO, just a pure lack of resources and bad timing.


My point is this  –  In a perfect world, we would have ALL the resources we need to put our programs on stage, on the field, etc.  That rarely happens, so in some cases we need to stretch what we have to make it work.


But, what if:


  • Instead of 4 marching instructors, you need to drop back to 1 full-time and another part-time instructor?
  • The show you really want to do for your upcoming season, while a perfect fit for the instrumentation you expect, isn’t feasible given the props (and extra truck rental) needed?
  • Two musicians approach you about switching to tuba, and including the new transfer student you just received notice on, you now need about $24K in tubas?
  • That Bowl Game on the other side of the country finally accepts you the year after you took a significant trip?


See what I mean?  These are heartbreaking decisions to have to make.  But in 1999, we didn’t have crowdfunding sites, let alone crowdfunding platforms with enhancements specifically designed by directors and educators for directors and educators.


Failing to plan is planning to fail, but sometimes things just flat out HAPPEN.  No amount of preparation can predict these events.


Fortunately, for those of you band directors, and arts administrators in a situation – FansRaise has your back!


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