Band boosters help their programs form stronger local ties.
Every fall, the four public high schools in New Hanover County, North Carolina, invite their communities to the High School Band Showcase. The event gives the four marching bands a chance to perform without the pressures of a competition or the controlled chaos of a football game, and it gives the bands’ supporters an opportunity to learn more about the bands’ skill and dedication.
“The high schools in our county have worked together to hold this event for a number of years,” says Lissa Unrue, publicity coordinator for the Hoggard Band Boosters in Wilmington, North Carolina. “It’s one of the ways we thank our community for their support.”
Because the community in New Hanover County responds so well to the showcase, the Hoggard marching band plans to participate in other outreach events, including a performance at an upcoming Relay for Life and volunteer support in the concessions stand at a local soccer stadium. Such activities help strengthen community ties as more residents learn about the band program, Unrue says.
Making sure the next generation of performers knows about the band program is crucial, too. “Every year we invite our area 8th grade band students to 8th grade night at a home football game,” Unrue says. “This year we invited not just our feeder schools, but also private schools, charter schools, and other middle schools in neighboring school districts.”
The 8th graders “shadow” the high school band, marching out onto the field for the pregame show, playing the National Anthem, sitting in the stands during the game, and playing the pep songs. “The event is instrumental in recruiting new students to our program,” Unrue says.
Hoggard band members also visit the middle schools during the school year to interact with younger musicians.
Door to Door
In Reno, Nevada, the Damonte Ranch High School Band Parent Association supports students’ efforts to make themselves known in the community. “Three times a year, our program helps the kids with Band Day,” explains Tara Fernbach, president. “The kids dress in their uniforms and knock on doors in our community. They explain who they are and what they do and ask for community support.”
Booster parents help the students dress out for the events, drive them to the neighborhoods, and act as chaperones. “Every Band Day event is a huge success,” Fernbach says. “We’ve learned that once people find out about our band program, they are more than willing to help.”
Publicity and Sponsorship
With events such as Band Day illustrating the value of community support, Damonte Ranch is re-evaluating its approach to community outreach. “Our program is growing quickly, and we are still identifying ways to reach out,” Fernbach says. “We’re considering creating a position on the board just for community outreach activities, and we’ve stepped up our efforts to work with the local media.”
The Hoggard Band Boosters has a chairperson to work with local newspapers and television and also to make use of social media to promote band events. The group also completely revamped its website this year, with such success that it appears on the first page of a Google search for “marching band booster clubs.”
“At the beginning of each season, we ask the parents to fill out a form and list their skills and areas of expertise,” Unrue says. “This year I volunteered to work on the booster website. We’ve also identified several sponsorships through our parents.”
Though Unrue says a formal sponsorship program is a “work in progress,” Hoggard has attracted some sponsors through parent involvement and by going directly to local businesses. “Several of our sponsors are in-kind rather than financial,” Unrue explains. “Supplying us with much needed copies, loaning us an equipment trailer, feeding our kids before a competition … our sponsors provide much needed and much appreciated resources.”
As the Damonte Ranch marching band grows, almost doubling in size from four years ago, its parent group has also stepped up its efforts in attracting sponsorships. Like at Hoggard, many of Damonte Ranch’s sponsorships come from parent efforts.
“Some of our parents work for companies that will make matching donations, and some work for small businesses that want to give back to the community,” Fernbach says. “If a family brings in a good sponsorship, part of those funds will go toward their ‘fair share’ fees.”
Damonte Ranch is fortunate to receive a large annual sponsorship from a local music store that also supports other school music programs in the area. This store and all other sponsors receive recognition on Damonte Ranch’s website. Hoggard also acknowledges the businesses that support its program with mentions on the website and inclusion in field show programs.
“All sponsors, whether in-kind or financial, are given the same incentives based on their level of sponsorship,” Unrue says. “All of these connections help promote the program.”