JDHS band has fundraiser for gig in big apple

Group works to amass $l00,000 to send 50 students to Carnegie Hall

Posted: Sunday, January 15, 2006

Most kids would dread having to spend 24 straight hours at school - not the Juneau-Douglas High School wind ensemble students.

In preparation for their trip to New York City to play at Carnegie Hall in March, the student-musicians filled the JDHS auditorium with music from 5 p.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Saturday during a "band-a-thon" fundraiser. The group is one of six bands selected to perform at the famous venue, as part of the New York Wind Band Festival from March 24 through 26.

Sophomore trumpet player Ethan Hubbard said the fundraising event helped the camaraderie of the ensemble.

"There's more fellowship than required for any sort of class period, which is pretty much what this is, only it's 24 hours," Hubbard said.

Sleeping bags were sprawled out around the band room, while small groups performed in scheduled rotations throughout the evening in the auditorium. Students got sponsors to donate money for the amount of time each musician played, with some signing up to play for as many as seven hours. The wind ensemble is trying to raise approximately $100,000 for the nearly 50 students that will travel to the Big Apple.

Sophomore alto saxophone player Hope Aldrighette said getting ready for the band-a-thon helped her realize how quickly their trip to New York City is sneaking up.

"Before the holidays it didn't seem so very soon, but now it's coming up the month after next month and it's really amazing," she said.

Music teacher Ken Guiher said the fundraiser helps the students realize the magnitude of playing at Carnegie Hall.

"I think this really brings it to reality when the kids get up there and perform on the stage and do so well," he said.

The trip to New York will be an event they won't soon forget, Guiher said.

"That's the chance of a lifetime, to play at Carnegie Hall. How many people get that opportunity?" he said.

Junior baritone saxophone player Katie Nelson, who only got three hours of sleep, said the students have been working really hard to get ready for the big experience.

"We'll never get a chance like this again," she said. "And this is a good way to prepare for it."

Hubbard, who got about 2 hours of sleep, said most people don't understand or appreciate the level of commitment it takes to be a part of the band.

"Band geeks just don't get a lot of credit," he said. "But it takes a lot of hard work to get good at something like this."

The band program has provided a number of memorable experiences for students in the past, from playing in Orlando, Fla., to Chicago, Ill. Band booster Suzanne Malter said being part of the band program helps kids in more ways than just learning how to play an instrument.

"These kinds of experiences help pull kids in and keep kids engaged in school and that is really important," she said.

"Being in the music program, it gives them not only the music, but it can give them these other experiences that broadens their horizons incredibly," band booster Wilma Cooper said.

The boosters and students are still fundraising for the trip and will be having more events in the coming months, Guiher said.

Nelson said the students get more out of being in the band than playing in Carnegie Hall.

"It's important to remember that it's not necessarily the destination that's the most important thing - it's the path getting there," she said.

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