Carson City student orchestra program beats challenging budget odds
The music is ringing through the halls of Carson City Schools despite little funding and sparse resources.
With little financial assistance coming from the Carson City School District budget, Strings in the Schools, Carson City Symphony’s after-school program, depends on private donations, association memberships and support from the community to fuel their expanding and dedicated program.
With over 150 in-school participants, Strings in the Schools costs an estimated $25,000 each year. Although it is a tuition-free program, Strings in the Schools, has managed to thrive in a suffering state economic wise and a tight budget, unwilling to compromise.
Tony Turley, Director of Fiscal Services for the Carson City School District projected a 12 percent budget reduction for the 2011-2012 school year, according to minutes taken from the Special Public Hearing Meeting of the Carson City School District. In that case, Turley also said that would be the district budgeting for the worst-case scenario.
Although the program is operating in a ‘worst-case’ scenario, it is functioning well on a donation driven budget and has no plans of slowing progression.
“The economy makes the parents really excited that they have this option for their students,” Elinor Bugli, President of the Carson City Symphony said. “Even if they lose their job or can’t afford private lessons, [their child] can continue [playing].”
Ever since Elinor and David Bugli started the Carson City Symphony in 1984, they have been striving to get an orchestra program in the schools. Sue Jesch, Education Director for the Carson City Symphony, helped get the program up and running.
The Strings in the Schools began in 2004 but just this past year, in Fall 2011, Strings in the Schools was integrated into Carson City High School. As a tuition-free program, it is dependant on constant donations, as well as private donations and funding such as grants from the Nevada Arts Council, the Sierra Philharmonic League and the Carson City Music Club.
“One good thing is that even in bad times, funders like to support things [involving] children and that’s our future,” Elinor said.
The program is open to public-, private- and home-school students. Bordewich-Bray Elementary, Empire Elementary and Carson High School participate during the school year.
It provides free beginning violin lessons for students in grades 2-5 and ensemble or orchestra experience to any Carson City student who is interested. The only cost for students is their instrument, and even then, the program has rentals.
Despite a lot of nationwide art and music programs being cut in the poor economy, Strings in the Schools has managed to create an environment and cause in which the community is happy to donate to.
“We have no difficulty having people donate,” Jesch said. “They’re wonderful and when you see the kids, you’ll know why.”
Donations of instruments are also encouraged. These can be turned into rentals that the students can borrow while they participate in the program. Having an orchestra program in the schools of Carson City, may be a new thing – but that just leaves it plenty of room to make an impact.
“The significance of having music programs within the school day is that it shows the important of music and the arts,” Elinor said. “It shows a well-rounded education. Plus after school, we have to compete with other activities, sports and transportation issues.”
Despite the current state of the economy, people seem to give when they see a need. Elinor and Jesche claimed the program was very fortunate in that there haven’t been any major problems monetarily as the program has a plethora of willing volunteers.
Everyone, including the many volunteers that showed, was in high spirits Thursday, Dec. 8 when the Strings in the Schools program held their 2nd annual “This is Not a Christmas Concert.” Even though it has been mostly smooth sailing with the budget, the program hasn’t always has such an easy time finding a venue. This concert, though, was successfully held at the Carson City Community Center, which housed many eager parents and interested listeners.
“We’re so big so it’s been difficult finding a place to hold our concerts,” Jesche said. “But that’s what’s so amazing about this, everyone is so cooperative.”
From start to finish, the concert acted as a forum for the students, of many ages, to show off. They were positive, encouraging and seemed proud of what they could do. They performed.
“People sign up because they get to see other kids performing, music is a great cooperative venture,” Music Director of the Carson City Symphony, David Bugli said.
Without this free program, many students wouldn’t be able to afford such high-quality lessons. Jesche oversees the entire program, and with over 40 years of experience teaching, she is still excited to be able to see each student progress. According to Jesche, the students, no matter who age, mingle and support each other.
“[Strings in the Schools] has given me a world of opportunity,” 14-year-old Samantha Lowe, a talented violin player in the program said. “The musical world is an entire subculture…[playing] violin has changed my entire life and it wouldn’t be a big part of my life without the program.”
Upcoming Student Performances:
• Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. – Carson Middle School Concert (orchestra and choir) at Carson Middle School
• Sunday, Dec.18 from 2 – 3 p.m. – STRAZZ plays at Trader Joe’s in Carson City.
• Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 6:20 p.m. – Eagle Valley Middle School Concert (band, choir and orchestra) at Eagle Valley Middle School.
• Thursday, Dec. 22 at 1:30 p.m. – Christmas Carol Playalong at the Carson Mall. To play, call 775-450-5584.Advertisements