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Marching Band Costs and Contests


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#1 BandJunkies

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 09:51 PM

Forgive me if I am lacking some factual information, but I do have a topic that has been on my mind lately. As I have become more involved with my kid's marching band, I've noticed that the money it takes to become or remain competitive, generally speaking, is increasing rapidly.

I'm guessing there are some of the larger and higher placing bands that already spend over $600k per season (through band fees and booster fundraisers). Are we headed to a point in time where $500k is a minimum to even be able to make finals at a regional BOA or local contest?

It seems to me that some large percentage of schools will not be able to keep up with the Joneses. What happens then? A separate division?

I'm not saying that some schools don't do awesome with far less or that money is the only factor. But as more money flows into the marching arts... music arrangers and drill writers raise their prices, consultants cost more, etc. Maybe they didn't charge enough anyway and they should be paid a great wage for their talents.

I suppose I am curious what others thoughts are on the topic. I'm not looking for what your band spends and serious kudos up front for those bands that get results with less. Just wondering if anyone else feels like this is racheting up quickly.

#2 Samuel Culper

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:12 PM

There is no doubt that money is a factor.  And it is frustrating that that is the case. I pay solidly north of $1,000/year for my child to participate, when all is considered.  Most of those fees go directly to "cost" items (uniform, shirts, gloves, etc., etc.) or to lessons, but we also have a portion that goes to the common pool to support show development.  And above that we, as a booster organization, have to raise money each year that is into six figures.

 

So, while money IS a factor, I think another major factor is the health, activity and involvement of the booster organization.  Granted, that is about raising money, but at least that is money that is being earned rather than coming out of the pockets of the students' families.  The more active, creative and successful the booster organization is, the more the financial burden is shifted away from the students' families.   



#3 banddad84

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:29 PM

Forgive me if I am lacking some factual information, but I do have a topic that has been on my mind lately. As I have become more involved with my kid's marching band, I've noticed that the money it takes to become or remain competitive, generally speaking, is increasing rapidly.

I'm guessing there are some of the larger and higher placing bands that already spend over $600k per season (through band fees and booster fundraisers). Are we headed to a point in time where $500k is a minimum to even be able to make finals at a regional BOA or local contest?

It seems to me that some large percentage of schools will not be able to keep up with the Joneses. What happens then? A separate division?

I'm not saying that some schools don't do awesome with far less or that money is the only factor. But as more money flows into the marching arts... music arrangers and drill writers raise their prices, consultants cost more, etc. Maybe they didn't charge enough anyway and they should be paid a great wage for their talents.

I suppose I am curious what others thoughts are on the topic. I'm not looking for what your band spends and serious kudos up front for those bands that get results with less. Just wondering if anyone else feels like this is racheting up quickly.

Just my thoughts - I would say you don't need to have $500K to make a BOA finals - I have seen many programs that are doing it with far less - I saw a comment that Vista Ridge uniforms last year - the tops they wore were because of growth and not having enough uniforms to go around so they just added the top.

 

As I understand it, UIL is cover by school/district. BOA is not - local events charge far less than BOA to compete. but there are many up and coming directors that use in house talent or a show they designed themselves, while others use a package of designers, arrangers, and consultants. this can certainly add to cost - it depends on the talent that is available. 

 

big amount of the growing cost ties back to where you want to compete. Travel cost, Buses (charters VS school buses - dictated by district policies) Props - many programs go lean on props and do very well - props can accent or detract from a show if no one understands how the props tie into the show.

 

If you live in Avon or Camel Indiana - you have some very large competitions close to home - if you are in Texas - you may have to travel and a hotel stay adds more than $10K per night - plus food and charter costs.

 

to get to the big show - Grand Nats from Texas - you can easily, more than double the student cost for the year. Equipment, trailers travel - buses to go to Indy or a plane ride with charters waiting for a 4 day stay in Indy. all of that cost is within a 2 month marching season. - you can interchange the Grand Nats cost with a trip to Rose Parade or Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

 

Now - add to all of that - if you have concert , symphonic, jazz or wind ensemble that wants to compete on a state or level - like the Midwest Clinic - get those checkbooks out. I doubt that any one school gets any more funds than the rest - so it comes down to the commitment to fund raise all year long and the acceptance of the parents to cover the cost. Some schools have the advantage of alumni students that have moved on and created their own success and support the program. but that is generally for programs that have been around a long time.

 

just my thoughts - not an expert by any means just what I have seen



#4 banddad84

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 10:30 PM

There is no doubt that money is a factor.  And it is frustrating that that is the case. I pay solidly north of $1,000/year for my child to participate, when all is considered.  Most of those fees go directly to "cost" items (uniform, shirts, gloves, etc., etc.) or to lessons, but we also have a portion that goes to the common pool to support show development.  And above that we, as a booster organization, have to raise money each year that is into six figures.

 

So, while money IS a factor, I think another major factor is the health, activity and involvement of the booster organization.  Granted, that is about raising money, but at least that is money that is being earned rather than coming out of the pockets of the students' families.  The more active, creative and successful the booster organization is, the more the financial burden is shifted away from the students' families.   

agreed - great points



#5 bksatx

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Posted 12 April 2019 - 08:37 PM

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Every district funds fine arts differently.  For instance, in NEISD, basically, the only funding given to each program is the salaries of the band directors.  2 or 3 depending on the school.  Maybe a little more for some part time help.  Other than that, funding for specialists, instruments, show design, techs, uniforms, etc. come from band fees and the band parent association. 

 

While band fees do tend to increase, I know that CTJ keeps a very close eye on that.  They are always having to gauge what is too much.  If the temperature of the community is not feeling what the fees will be that year, they are adjusted.

 

I will say this, 10-11 years ago, when my oldest daughter was getting ready to start band, we showed up to registration.  We started going to the different tables in the band hall signing up for this and that.  We finally get to the table where we had to write the check, and they told me "that will be $750!"  I was like, you've got to be kidding, I have to pay to be in band???  I did band in high school.  I was in a pretty competitive band back in the 80's (LV Berkner, Bob Floyd was my director).  I had to call my mother and ask her, did you pay for me to be in band.  Back then, she said she didn't.  The only thing paid for was for special trips.  I was floored!!!

 

Saying all of that, band was the BEST thing my daughters have ever participated in!!!  Paying all of the money that I have over the last 10 years or so has been well worth it, and I wouldn't change a thing!  To me, you get what you pay for!!!

 

Last thing, I was told this by a former administrator that I knew, he said "Being in band is not a right, it is a privilege."  Band fees are now a fact of life.  It is part of the deal if you want to participate in band.  Band is not the only program that charges fees.  You have to pay to be on the dance team, you have to pay to be a cheerleader, you have to pay to be in athletics.  It is all expensive!!!  If your student/family does not want to pay, then they don't participate.  It is pretty simple.



#6 banddad84

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 05:45 PM

Every district funds fine arts differently.  For instance, in NEISD, basically, the only funding given to each program is the salaries of the band directors.  2 or 3 depending on the school.  Maybe a little more for some part time help.  Other than that, funding for specialists, instruments, show design, techs, uniforms, etc. come from band fees and the band parent association. 

 

While band fees do tend to increase, I know that CTJ keeps a very close eye on that.  They are always having to gauge what is too much.  If the temperature of the community is not feeling what the fees will be that year, they are adjusted.

 

I will say this, 10-11 years ago, when my oldest daughter was getting ready to start band, we showed up to registration.  We started going to the different tables in the band hall signing up for this and that.  We finally get to the table where we had to write the check, and they told me "that will be $750!"  I was like, you've got to be kidding, I have to pay to be in band???  I did band in high school.  I was in a pretty competitive band back in the 80's (LV Berkner, Bob Floyd was my director).  I had to call my mother and ask her, did you pay for me to be in band.  Back then, she said she didn't.  The only thing paid for was for special trips.  I was floored!!!

 

Saying all of that, band was the BEST thing my daughters have ever participated in!!!  Paying all of the money that I have over the last 10 years or so has been well worth it, and I wouldn't change a thing!  To me, you get what you pay for!!!

 

Last thing, I was told this by a former administrator that I knew, he said "Being in band is not a right, it is a privilege."  Band fees are now a fact of life.  It is part of the deal if you want to participate in band.  Band is not the only program that charges fees.  You have to pay to be on the dance team, you have to pay to be a cheerleader, you have to pay to be in athletics.  It is all expensive!!!  If your student/family does not want to pay, then they don't participate.  It is pretty simple.

Great points BKSATX - you get what you pay for - I would assume that every school has a means for kids to learn and grow their love of music - it just may be in a concert hall and not on a football field - you get what you pay for



#7 LHSbandDad

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 04:32 AM

I agree with some of your points....sort of.  I have been at this now for almost 10+ years as a band dad in Leander.  Our fees have always stayed in the $500 range all in (except for Grand Nats trip which is a completely separate cost).  Our directors have always felt that to keep the costs low allows more kids to be in band, so I agree with your points about that.  However, I do  not agree that props have to be expensive.  Our trip to Grand Nats in 2016 our props were PVC pipes formed into cubes (4th Dimension).  Last year our props were styrophome blocks painted green (Polarity).  We do what we can to save money and keep fees low with all aspects of the program from food to uniform maintenance and prop selection.  We have a tremendous booster organization with wonderful parents and that helps too.  I think it comes down the right combination of music selection, show design, props, marching technique, parents, directors, and student leadership.  I think we have all seen a band with expensive props that did not make finals.  It takes all the above.



#8 Danpod

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:49 AM

Fundraising and building relationships with local businesses is so overlooked. There are still folks
who believe that a school district funds EVERYTHING for a band program. Those blank checks do not exist.

Marching band programs have become so intricate and involved that they almost have to be run like small businesses. Smart planning and creative use of funds/materials can go a long way.

Danpod Valdres - Moderator at Txbands.com


#9 whatiscrockettimshaking

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 03:08 PM

prosper rich they go to nats on uil years twice! waxahachie could never sadly but they place higher all time than them. no hate royal rising was enjoy but conquest and last year waxahachie would kick good at nats i say



#10 banddad84

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:29 AM

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prosper rich they go to nats on uil years twice! waxahachie could never sadly but they place higher all time than them. no hate royal rising was enjoy but conquest and last year waxahachie would kick good at nats i say

I will say what everyone that reads this is thinking - stop what you are doing and step away from the keyboard. While we are not big on decorum, - come back and chat when you can form complete sentences that mean something (read your own statements)

 

Bye Bye now



#11 MadisonBandMan1

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 12:33 AM

prosper rich they go to nats on uil years twice! waxahachie could never sadly but they place higher all time than them. no hate royal rising was enjoy but conquest and last year waxahachie would kick good at nats i say

What? This statement is completely unreadable. Please follow banddad84's advice. Thank you. 



#12 TWHSParent

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 01:44 PM

Fundraising and building relationships with local businesses is so overlooked. There are still folks
who believe that a school district funds EVERYTHING for a band program. Those blank checks do not exist.

Marching band programs have become so intricate and involved that they almost have to be run like small businesses. Smart planning and creative use of funds/materials can go a long way.

 

So much this. If your band booster org does not have a corporate donations chair, then it really needs to be created.



#13 herbaflerb

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 06:52 PM

I agree with some of your points....sort of.  I have been at this now for almost 10+ years as a band dad in Leander.  Our fees have always stayed in the $500 range all in (except for Grand Nats trip which is a completely separate cost).  Our directors have always felt that to keep the costs low allows more kids to be in band, so I agree with your points about that.  However, I do  not agree that props have to be expensive.  Our trip to Grand Nats in 2016 our props were PVC pipes formed into cubes (4th Dimension).  Last year our props were styrophome blocks painted green (Polarity).  We do what we can to save money and keep fees low with all aspects of the program from food to uniform maintenance and prop selection.  We have a tremendous booster organization with wonderful parents and that helps too.  I think it comes down the right combination of music selection, show design, props, marching technique, parents, directors, and student leadership.  I think we have all seen a band with expensive props that did not make finals.  It takes all the above.

 

I totally agree. It could be just my area/program but it gets tossed around a lot that "CTJ/Flomo/Reagan/(insert good band) wins because they have big/expensive props."

 

It's not true at all. Vandy constantly proves this. They have a fantastic sound and excellent foot technique. That's why they win. They have minimal props, and they don't try to take away from the performers. Props are just there to help the show. The notion that schools need to spend big money on props/scrims/tarps is absurd. Your prowess will be demonstrated through the kiddos. However, don't get me wrong. It is a requirement to have money to compete in BOA or contests more than two hours away. That's where wealthier bands may be in a better position than not-as-well-off programs.



#14 banddad84

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 08:57 PM

I totally agree. It could be just my area/program but it gets tossed around a lot that "CTJ/Flomo/Reagan/(insert good band) wins because they have big/expensive props."

 

It's not true at all. Vandy constantly proves this. They have a fantastic sound and excellent foot technique. That's why they win. They have minimal props, and they don't try to take away from the performers. Props are just there to help the show. The notion that schools need to spend big money on props/scrims/tarps is absurd. Your prowess will be demonstrated through the kiddos. However, don't get me wrong. It is a requirement to have money to compete in BOA or contests more than two hours away. That's where wealthier bands may be in a better position than not-as-well-off programs.

you are correct - props are just a piece of the show - but it does nothing to impact the music score. those same programs you mentioned (as well as many other top tier programs) are accomplished in music performance, when you look at honor bands, all state member selections, Midwest Clinic etc. to say that any prop is going to going have a huge impact would be wrong. Props help tell the "story" that most shows are trying to tell on the field.



#15 takigan

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 12:58 AM

My band fees back in 2000 were $50.  This basically covered uniform cleaning, show shirt and a game snack fee.  We purchased stock arrangements for music (probably $500-1500), did our drill in-house...I believe we did our guard work in-house as well.  Our percussion writing was outsourced (for I would also guess $1000-1500).  Game travel came out of athletics (or just the school's account) as far as I know, and we yellow-dogged it to contests as well (no charters). We had a couple techs that got paid a little, though it was mostly the middle school directors and student leadership that filled that role. We didn't use props and although we attended several invitationals, we didn't travel anywhere that necessitated an overnight stay.  Uniforms were purchased by the district in 10 year increments, and booster moms did adjustments.  [Fun fact: in Japan, since 85% of the students are girls who can sew, most of the kids do their own adjustments].

There were capital outlay and repair funds set aside by the school for instruments/equipment overhaul on an as-needed basis, and the boosters were able to raise probably $30-50K/yr, which was some pretty solid fundraising that didn't come out of band fees or booster membership fees. This covered pretty much everything above and all contest entry fees not already provided by the band budget, and even covered our region/solo&ensemble contest fees (along with our accompanist fees) as well.  You didn't pay for an accompanist unless you were going to state.  Even though I qualified for TSSEC my 10th and 11th grade years, I didn't want to pay the state accompanist fee, so I didn't go to TSSEC.  My senior year I figured I'd just go ahead and go for it, just because it was my senior year.  But at Region S&E a judge decided to give me a 2 due to one little memory blip, so I had to stay home. Bleh!  ...at least I still didn't have to pay the fee.

If the band had been like "that'll be $500" at orientation, we'd of been like "Nope!".  It was hard enough to ask my family for the $200 to cover the spring trip.  And we were a "band family" with multiple people in it with college band experience, music degrees and music teaching experience.  I think the directors knew that there were a lot of families of that persuasion...and you really do have to know your community and what they're capable of and willing to make happen to avoid situations like that.


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#16 LeanderMomma

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 02:28 AM

My band fees back in 2000 were $50. This basically covered uniform cleaning, show shirt and a game snack fee. We purchased stock arrangements for music (probably $500-1500), did our drill in-house...I believe we did our guard work in-house as well.


Ha, I was color guard Captain my Senior year and it was my job to write ALL of the drill for the color guard for the entire show. I spent a good part of my summer with a tape recorder (for playing a director provided cassette tape of the show music), a notebook and a practice flag planning and writing out the drill for our show. Then it was my job to teach it to the other 15 girls before and during summer band camp.

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#17 truisticprince

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 11:59 PM

My band fees back in 2000 were $50.  

A different time. My fees for this past season was about $300 to the band and $250 to BPA for meals at competitions and games. The techs were paid and we had 3-4 who were students at UNT and we had 2-3 student teachers who also were techs during marching band. I saw during the mandatory meeting before the season that it costs us $270,000+ to run our program, most of that money coming from the bands of keller 5k, TNT fireworks stand, mattress fundraiser, and telecom donation blitz ($90,000 alone) etc. We had a lot of section time during official rehearsals, our show writers wrote for Boston crusaders, the program had a doctor in school conducting clothes on physicals for a good portion of the program. We paid for 2 sets of charter buses rode yellow to other competitions but some of those were paid by district and of course the buses to the games were paid by district. Mind you for the district the budget had in it (as of the latest budget i've seen which was 2017-2018) a dedicated $1.7 millions for fine arts as a whole. The props weren't that costly everything basically went into teaching the students or contest fees and traveling costs.


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