By JENNIFER MEIER
ELKHART — “It’s a difference-maker,” said Concord High School Band Director Scott Spradling of the $5,000 grant recently awarded to the department by the Elkhart Municipal Band Foundation.
Spradling said the grant money will be used to fund private music lessons for 12 students throughout the remainder 2012-13 school year.
“The improvement of the individual is a huge part of making the band better,” Spradling said. “Nurturing their talents through private study really opens the door to better musicianship.”
He cites his own experience for reference.
“I didn’t start taking lessons until my junior year in high school,” Spradling said. “And then my musical horizons just exploded. It’s so helpful to have someone say, ‘Try this, or Do this’.”
The private lessons will help prepare students for ISSMA Solo and Ensemble regional competition in January and possibly state competition in February.
“We encourage students to pursue improvement and excellence on their individual instrument. Two of the most vital elements to encouraging this improvement are through private lesson study and participation at ISSMA Solo and Ensemble Contest,” Spradling wrote in the grant application. “Although private study is available, some students are unable to take advantage of this opportunity due to lack of funding.”
By the end of the school year, says Spradling, the students and music department will really start reaping the benefits of individual study.
“This is such a great investment in the student,” Spradling said.
The music department at Elkhart Central High School received a $6,000 grant which Band Director Scott Garner said will be used to fund Winter Guard and Winter Percussion.
“We’ve had these two groups in the past, but have been unable to offer them for several years due to lack of funds,” Garner said. “This is just a fantastic opportunity for the staff and kids.”
The money will entirely support both programs, covering the cost of staff, equipment, and uniforms and transportation to seven Winter Guard contests and four Winter Percussion contests.
This is the first year the Elkhart Municipal Band Foundation has offered grant money.
“We are so pleased to be able to offer the grants,” said Foundation President Phil Penn. “Through them we can assist talented young students with music lessons and instrument rentals, or we can help band departments with equipment or programs.”
Penn hopes these grants will help grow the foundation for the future.
“It’s proven that music is a huge vehicle to help turn things around for kids and to help aspiring young musicians preserve musicianship,” Penn said. “We want to promote the foundation to the community and hope they will consider a donation to help continue the work.”
The Elkhart Municipal Band, formed in 1938, is made up of local professional musicians that perform free concerts in December, February and March as well as Tuesday evening park concerts, June through August.