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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Music department thrives on fundraisers and donations

When students flipped on their televisions and watched in envy as their peers marched down the streets of New York in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade last November, very few of them thought about how money had come into play. Most students are unaware that marching band is one of the most expensive activities on campus, costing roughly $1,000 per participant each year.
“Band students give a lot more [effort] into their activity because they’re on campus more than anybody else,” music department chair Michael Boitz said. “They’re very dedicated and it’s a bigger craft, so marching band families pay a lot more to be a part of it.”
Junior Sameer Iyengar said marching band was a big jump money-wise compared to cross country, the sport he did last year. However, he plans on continuing it next year because it’s such a good experience.
The budget that the music department receives from the district each year for expenditures is a meager $2,500.
However, Boitz said after a recent major equipment malfunction, principal Paul Robinson has helped find funding to pay for repair costs that add up to around $1,500 to $2,000.
“When he arrived, he found out that we don’t have a repair budget, so right away he helped us with it,” Boitz said.
Another huge component to the music program’s overall budget is the money that Saratoga Music Boosters, the organization that financially supports the music department, raises each year through fundraisers, such as selling cookie dough or holding annual events like Jazz Cabaret.
Aside from SMB fundraisers, some music students have held independent efforts such as car washes, and some have also performed gigs in the area for weddings or other events. Choir students also sell chocolate candy bars to offset their cost of participating. 
“We all need to put effort into our fundraising because equipment is not cheap,” sophomore Joowon Lee said. “And as a bonus, if we all fundraise a lot collectively then that allows us to pay for trips and fund members who may be financially struggling.” 
Boitz said the highest percentage of the fundraising dollars goes to offset beginning band and beginning orchestra, meaning a majority of the money is sent to allow more fifth graders a chance to play or learn to play.  
The next largest portion goes to program support. SMB contributes between $5,000 to $6,000 each year to pay for the accompanist and music for the choir. 
Every year, SMB splits the amount of money they raise among the music groups according to the number of participants in each group.
“It’s proportionally correct because there are about 220 kids in band and Color Guard, 70 kids in choir and 160 kids in orchestra,” Boitz said. “[SMB] is usually pretty spot on about how much they’re supporting each part of the program.”
Boitz said that if a student decides not to join marching band because of a financial issue, they can privately speak to himself or music director Jonathan Pwu. However, no student has ever confronted them with the problem in all their years of teaching.
“If they have that problem but never say anything, then we have no way of knowing there’s somebody out there who would really like to be playing in band but has a financial hardship,” Boitz said. “All they have to do is confidentially say something, and we’ll help them deal with it.”
 
 
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