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Winter Percussion Ensembles Head to Championships

Parents, music directors discuss funding efforts

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Stamford, CT | Added on April 05, 2015 At 09:00 AM

Two Stamford bands are heading to the championships.

"We start planning almost a full year in advance, probably about 8 or 10 months in advance," said Michael Wyatt, Westhill Winter Percussion Ensemble instrumental music director. "We try to plan out all the fundraising we can do to try to keep the costs down for each kid as much as we can." 

It was a battle of the bands Saturday as 13 high school percussion ensembles percussion ensembles from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York went head-to-head at the 2015 Music on the Hill Indoor Percussion and Winter Guard Competition at Westhill High School in Stamford. It's part of the Winter guard finals and the fifth year Westhill has hosted it. This coming Tuesday both Westhill and Stamford High School will attend the Winter Guard International Championships in Dayton, Ohio to compete against bands from across the nation. 

But behind every ensemble's success is a dedicated parent volunteer.  

"We figure out a way to make it so that every child who wants to participate can," said Carrie Jachimczyk, Stamford High School band parent president.  

"We needed at least 80 volunteers to help us get this today between parking, moving instruments, selling candy, bringing hot dogs," said Alex Finiasz, Westhill marching band co-president. 

Unlike marching band, winter percussion is considered an after-school activity and does not receive any funding from schools. All fundraising efforts are primarily put together behind the scenes by dedicated parents and students.

"We get together starting in the summer and we try to come up with different fundraising ideas," said  Jachimczyk. "Do we want to do a raffle this year, do we want to do bake sales, who has access to what is basically what it boils down to." 

Music directors admit limited funding has often put them in a difficult position. 

"I still feel like we're lacking funding," said Michael Wyatt, WestHill Winter Percussion Instrumental music director. "A large part of that come from the fact that our clientele are students and sometimes can't pay the due's they're looking for."

Michael Wyatt, WestHill Winter Percussion Instrumental music director says the Band Parents Association for Westhill ends up raising about $40-50,000 a year for the ensemble. He tells us fundraising has shifted for Westhill, allowing fundraising efforts to help each member individually. 

"Our clientele has kind of shifted from where we used to have a lot of families that were in well to do areas, we now have a lot more families that are struggling to keep things," said Wyatt. "So we're trying to come up with more individual fundraisers to help the kids cover their individual costs, where as in years past, like five or ten years ago, a lot of our fundraisers were geared towards the overall fund." 


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