Music and Money

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The McQueen High School marching band is getting ready to host its 12th annual extravaganza Saturday, featuring 17 bands from across the west.

Rick Moffit, the band director, says this fund raiser is just the beginning for McQueen, as they too, get ready to compete and live up to awards earned in past years.

"Because the state of Nevada does not fund groups such as ours, fund-raising is absolutely necessary in order to purchase instruments, hire staff, to go anywhere. It's absolutely essential."

These students practice at least 16 hours a week together, 14 of those hours after-school. You could say they spend most of their day living and breathing music notes.

Moffit says it pays off. But making sure the music continues to play requires more than just practice.

"We often spend so much time on fund raising, instead of teaching and practicing."

According to the Washoe County School District, about 55 percent of the general fund expenses go to regular instruction. Music education teachers are paid under that plan, but there is also an additional expense for after-school hours teaching.

Cheryl Shingler, with the district, says beyond supplying new schools with new instruments, the money is limited for other expenses.

"School dollars only go so far. So, if a group wants to travel to a competition, they fund raise to do so. If they have band uniforms that wear out, generally they have to fund raise to buy those."

At McQueen, fund raising never stops. That's why events such as the Extravaganza, which is open to the public, are essential to maintaining daily operations for this 130+ member band.

Saturday's marching band extravaganza starts at 11 a.m., with performances continuing until 5 p.m. Admission is $5 a person, and the proceeds will go to the McQueen band.