Dress Our Band

Mike Lawson • Directors Who Make a Difference • October 22, 2015

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Editor’s Note: This past June, SBO ran a cover story on Fairview High School band director (Fairview, TN) entitled “Justin Barr is Getting the Band Back Together” detailing his success in rebuilding his high school marching band program from a low of under 20 members to nearly 80 members today. With that growth in new musicians in his program came a serious need for new band uniforms. We asked the president of the band boosters to follow up with us on that story and let us know what’s happened since this past summer to address the need to dress the band, and she delivered this report.

There’s nothing quite like the camaraderie and team spirit that come with being a member of a high school marching band. As a teenager, I did not take the time to think about the why or how, I only knew that my band members were my family. Each time I speak to someone, who was a member of a marching band during his or her formative high school years, I get the same glassy-eyed look. The wide grin, positive response, and the evoked feelings can only be described as a love and loyalty that seems to run through our veins. Needless to say, band members often become parents of band members. And so there I was, in the band room of Fairview High School, in the midst of the discussion that started a whirlwind of activity in our small town.

“Wait, WHAT?” was the stunned response that came through the room when the band director gave the estimate of how much money we would need for new uniforms that would accommodate our current needs, plus our current rate of growth. It has been at least twelve years since this band program last had new uniforms. Even more astonishing is that it has been more than twenty years since this marching band program last had new shakos. Considering we filled all but eight misshapen uniforms last year, we knew this day was coming but we were not necessarily prepared to handle it now. 

This also happens to be the year that we were tasked with hosting our county band exhibition for all eight Williamson County, TN high school bands. We were expecting 1600 people in our high school stadium! And now we also need $32,000 for new uniforms! Whew! How were we going to pull this off?

As president of our Fairview High School Band Boosters, I know without a doubt, that I work with the best band board and band parents anywhere. I also know that the community support in Fairview, TN rivals what you can find in any other town in the United States. We come from a place that is full of love, support, integrity, and commitment — and it shows. I truly believe that starting with this strength of teamwork and togetherness is why it will happen!

The first meeting of the year began with brainstorming for fundraisers. It was, quite possibly, the longest and craziest meeting we’ve had thus far. The truth is that we were willing to do just about anything to make this come together for our kids as long as it was legal and moral. When you take the heart of band geeks, and you add the fact that they are now parents of band geeks (a term I use affectionately), you have this crazy zeal that becomes magical. We looked at all of our past fundraisers, opened up the floor to new fundraisers, did research on outside fundraisers that our community had not yet tried, and finally made a list of how we would tackle it all throughout the year. 

We would certainly need more money than in a normal year. We committed to five fundraisers for the year and kept a few others to revisit at a later date. Given that our band needs money to run throughout the year, and that we keep our band fees quite low relative to other bands in our county, we understood that some of our fundraising monies would also need to stay in the operating budget. 

We were blessed this year with a new board member who is not only amazing on the computer, but her mind works 24/7. She created a website and full public relations campaign which has really helped us publicly present our cause. As a booster club, we chose the name “Dress Our Band” for our uniform campaign. Individually, and as a group, we began to get the word out in our community through Facebook, our local newspaper, our website, and word of mouth. I would be surprised if you ran into someone in Fairview who did not know that the high school marching band is raising money for new uniforms. 

Another part of our fundraising campaign was to come up with a sponsorship packet where businesses could “buy in” to levels of band support between $500 and $2500. This would enable us to receive large donations to use toward uniforms and, in return, offer rewards to businesses such as: advertisements in our concert programs, company logos on our band equipment truck, and company logos on our website. Since we were reaching out to county businesses for exhibition support, we also took every opportunity to speak with businesses in our county about supporting our band at a sponsorship level.

We currently sit at just three months into the band season with almost $10,000 of our uniform money already raised. It sometimes seems daunting to think about the $22,000 left to meet our goal if we considered it at $4/bag of pecans or $7/box of fruit. However, we choose to look at the fact that truly we have all we need to make it happen: respect for each other, the good that comes from our kids being involved in marching band, the love and support from a small-town community, and a belief that it will happen — it just will! 

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