By Howard Clemens
Many high school bands, orchestras, and choirs have to raise money in the fall and spring so they may travel and perform in cities across the U.S. such as Orlando, FL, Washington D.C., and New York City. This year, I was particularly impressed by a story one Band and Orchestra Director, Lynda Alley, of Enumclaw High School in Washington, told me about her successful fundraising efforts. By recording and selling a fall concert CD/DVD, the school group was able to raise $15,000.
From April 5-9, 2010, Enumclaw high school band and orchestra will travel to Orlando, Florida to perform at Disney World. On April 6th, the high school band will perform in the Future March at Epcot Center and the symphony orchestra will perform on the Waterside Stage in Magic Kingdom. Both groups will partake in the “You’re Instrumental” workshop, a real recording session where students will underscore an animation of choice with their own soundtrack.
The story of how this particular high school band and orchestra raised funds for the trip to Disney World is heartening, and shows real drive and enthusiasm on the part of the band director and the students. Lynda Alley, Band and Orchestra Director at Enumclaw High School, said, “We engaged the services of the RM Project, a company that specializes in making films and soundtracks of student performances. RM Project made a soundtrack and film of our band performance during our fall 2009 concert.”
Alley says the high school band was so enthusiastic about the project they rehearsed and successfully recorded material that would normally be presented in June for the October 21st and 22nd concert.
The RM Project did not require upfront fees for production, but took a percentage of the proceeds as agreed upon in the contract. The production company recorded the fall concert and within two weeks presented master tracks for review. Once these were approved, the final CD/DVD was delivered in two weeks. Alley said, “The final project was packaged completely professionally, as if it rolled off the shelf at Best Buy. The DVD/CD’s are printed in full color, with a 24-page color companion booklet. The back and front of the jewel case is in full color featuring the artwork we requested, and the CD includes a bar code for retail distribution.” Alley added that the sound quality is perfect, as if it were recorded at “Carnegie Hall.”
Freshman through senior aged students were asked to sell the CD/DVD to parents, relatives, friends and associates. Students were actually relieved that they did not have to sell wrapping paper and magazines. Instead they were asked to do something that dovetailed with their musical work. Alley commented, “In many ways, students are more sophisticated than when I was in high school. I think most high school students find it demeaning when they are asked to sell items that have no connection with what they are attempting to achieve as students and musicians.”
Students who were motivated to sell more CD/DVDs were rewarded with an incentive based program. If they reached certain sales levels they received items aligned with their interest in music such as: music notation software, Apple Computer music products and music download gift cards. Students’ ultimate reward was attending the trip to Orlando in the spring and performing at Epcot Center or Magic Kingdom.
Parents were especially receptive to the program because it yielded $15,000 in funds in just six weeks. This took pressure from the booster organization to raise the funds. In previous years, the booster organization ran all of the concessions at the home athletic events, and was still unable to raise this much money.
In addition to student sales of the CD/DVD, the RM Project put up a website to generate more retail sales and as a place to sell digital downloads. Alley indicated, “This was a great way to sell the product to out of town friends and relatives of our program. The RM Project also contracts to coordinate uploading the CD/DVD on iTunes, Napster, Amazon, Rhapsody, and other online services where music downloads can be purchased.” Even though Alley declined the second option for online sales, she intends to incorporate this into the spring 2010 recording project. She said that Enumclaw High School will produce two recordings per year for the foreseeable future.
From a fundraising perspective, the recording and distribution project was a great success. The project also garnered student musicians and the band director exposure in CD/DVD format as well as online. With Educational Travel Consultants as their chosen tour company, students will have access to all four parks at Walt Disney World in Orlando: Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom between April 5-9th. A security guard will also be provided for the group from 11 p.m. – 5 p.m. everyday.