ANDERSON – Part of Anderson High School band director Richard Geisler’s vision for the 2019 Indiana State Fair Band Day competition program, “Sir Elton,” was a stage that included a red lacquer grand piano.
Ideas are easy, but bringing them to fruition can be another matter entirely, especially when it comes to the logistics of delivery of such a grand prop to the fairgrounds in Indianapolis and onto the track without a great deal of assembly.
That’s where the Anderson High School Band Boosters came in, developing an elaborate series of pulleys, Geisler said.
“I have said throughout the season that it takes a village. We could not have pulled off the win Friday without the support of the parents and other supporters who make up this organization,” he said.
Many local band programs are supported by a booster organization charged with raising money, chaperoning students at band camp and competitions, and building props and sewing costumes.
Band directors, including Geisler and Pendleton Heights High School's Marching Arabians' Chris Taylor, say band boosters are invaluable and allow them to concentrate on what they do best, teaching music.
Taylor said the South Madison Band Boosters, headed by Elizabeth Noble, is essential for the success of his program.
“It is probably the lifeblood of us being able to do the things that we do and being successful. All that comes from a very strong parent organization,” he said. “They make it easier for us to teach students and focus on music and do the things that we need to do.”
As with other volunteers, Taylor said, band boosters must pass background checks.
AHS booster President Andrea Kirkpatrick said the band boosters allow students who otherwise would not be able to afford to pay the $500 a year it costs to participate in band to do so.
“If we did not raise the funds, band would cost twice what it does for kids,” she said. “We don’t ever want a student to decide they are not going to march for financial reasons. There’s just way too much for students to gain by participating in something like this to miss out on it for something like money.”
Kirkpatrick played the mellophone when she attended Winchester High School, so it was an opportunity she wanted for her own children, AHS graduates Ellie and Joe, and current senior, Meghan.
“They all took piano lessons when they were younger, and then when they got to middle school, they had a choice of joining band or continuing with piano lessons,” she said. “It keeps me involved with them. I have met parents I wouldn’t have otherwise, people who have become wonderfully supportive friends of mine. If you haven’t connected with people, you haven’t done it right.”
Kirkpatrick’s tenure as a volunteer started when her children became involved starting about six years ago, about the time Geisler took over the AHS band.
“I once too often had ideas that I suggested to various people, including directors and other booster presidents,” she said.
Among them was updating the bylaws, restructuring the executive board and developing several committees devoted to finance, props, winter guard, and concessions.
“In any school system, there aren’t the support structures in place to make these things happen,” she said. “Those aren’t hard and fast committees, but they get organized as situations come up.”
Though she isn’t able to provide numbers, Kirkpatrick said the number of volunteers has grown. On average, each contributes about 2,000 hours a school year.
“There are more and more parents that we can count on every year,” she said. “The last two years we’ve actually had to have elections because we had more people running than open spots.”
The Marching Highlanders will present one final performance of their Indiana State Fair Band Day championship winning show, "Sir Elton," Monday evening at the Anderson High School football stadium, 4610 Madison Ave.
The band will present two run-throughs starting at 7:45 p.m. after open house.
Admission is $1 and seats are first come, first served.
The concession stand will be open for snacks or dinner.