THS band seeks new ways to secure funding
From concerts to online videos and sponsorship, band will get job done
Parker Ediger is frustrated.
The 17-year-old Tigard High School senior has spent years studying music in the band department. As a percussionist and horn player, he has performed in countless concerts and competitions, helped the school bring home several awards, and plans to become a music teacher after college.
But there's just one problem: The instruments he is being taught on aren't just old, they're practically garbage.
Weekly, we will have to take half a class period just to fix things, said Ediger. Thats 45 minutes of dead time just taping or labeling equipment or getting ready for a show. It definitely impacts what we are able to learn.
Last month, Ediger posted a video online of his bands shoddy musical equipment as part of a contest run by The Avedis Zildjian Company called, My pits the pits, which asks high school bands to show off their poor equipment for the chance to win $10,000 worth of new intruments.
The video was posted only a few days before the schools marching band secured its third championship in a row through the Northwest Association for the Performing Arts on Nov. 1.
That championship cemented it as one of the best band programs in the Pacific Northwest, but its hard to square that fact when you look around the schools band room.
This is not standard operating procedure, said marching band director Kati McKee, examinging a xylophone that is literally held together with zip ties and braided bracelets.
In another part of the band's main room, a set of marimbas a wooden mallet instrument is covered in blue tape, signifying broken keys.
Its so bad that we cant use it, McKee said.
A bass drum secured to a stand with a bungee cord has a large fist-sized hole smashed through it, after a bolt that secured the instrument fell off, the result of years of marching band practices and competitions, Ediger said.
Its designed for indoor use, only, he said. But we needed it, so it went outside.
The drum is still used in concerts and competitions, though. In permanent marker, someone has scribbled the word good on one side of the drumhead.
Thats the good side of the drum, Ediger said. The other side says, Bad.
An expensive problem
Unlike other instruments, such as flutes or clarinets, most students cant afford large percussion equipment on their own and rely on the school to provide them.
But percussion equipment is expensive. Very expensive.
A set of timpani four large drums that are a staple of any band will run about $12,000, McKee said.
Thats for a reasonable model, not top-of-the-line, she said. Thats one step up from the bottom.
And thats only one instrument. The band also has congas, xylophones, orchestra bells, marimba, bass drums, snare drums, cymbals, vibraphones and several other pieces of musical equipment it says needed to be replaced years ago.
My daughter just had her 20th high school reunion, and these instruments were here when she was here, McKee said. Thats ridiculous.
Theres no simple solution to fix the bands problems.
The music department at Tigard High School receives only $5,200 in funding each year, McKee said. That goes to fund all band, orchestra, choir and guitar programs at the school.
What were not going to get is more money from the district, because the district doesnt have more money to put into it, said McKee, who also teaches economics at Tigard High. They should, but theres a lot of shoulds out there. I can make a good case for more instruments, but I can also make the case that Im still using economic textbooks from 2004, and Im not getting new ones until 2017. There are all these places where we dont have the money.
This Saturday, the school's guitar and jazz ensembles are putting on a special one-night-only concert to raise money for the program.
Its a great opportunity for the kids to perform and, at the same time, we are hoping to get a lot of money, McKee said. We keep ticket prices low to get people in the door and maybe somebody will write us a check.
Fundraising has become a fact of life for the program, McKee said. The bands parent community raises $60,000 a year for the band to afford music and pay for instructors to work with students, McKee said.
I cant ask our parents to do more, she said. They do so much already.
McKee said she has even tried to find corporate sponsorship.
If some business wanted to step up and give us $10,000, Ill tattoo their name on my forehead, McKee said. Ill change the bands name to the Leif's Autobody Marching Band. I have no pride where thats concerned.
Last year, the schools band booster organizations was able to purchase some used percussion equipment for its marching band.
It was used, and used well, but it is better than what we had, McKee said. "We are hoping that we can get some more eventually. Well see.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT