Music Festival for Free?

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Music Festival for Free?

University Preparatory's Orchestra practices on February 15th in preparation for Festival.

University Preparatory's Orchestra practices on February 15th in preparation for Festival.

Troy Gamurot

University Preparatory's Orchestra practices on February 15th in preparation for Festival.

Troy Gamurot

Troy Gamurot

University Preparatory's Orchestra practices on February 15th in preparation for Festival.

Troy Gamurot, Journalist

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Every year, University Preparatory’s Orchestra, Madrigals, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz groups perform at a Music Festival in which they will be judged by accredited musical professionals and receive insightful feedback, helping the groups improve more with each year. After an awards ceremony to celebrate their performances, the young musicians are take to an amusement park for a rewarding day of fun.

In prior years, each student paid off their own price for the trip, save for the transportation, which has always been provided by the school. As Mrs. Hatcher has stated, “Previously, we only covered the transportation costs of the trip.”  This year however, it was announced that Festival would be free for all music students in the aforementioned groups. Being truly unprecedented, both students and teachers were pleasantly surprised, with Wind Ensemble Conductor Mr. Harps commenting that, “This is the first time I’ve heard us use Title 1 for festival like this and I’ve been teaching for 32 years!” While the students were certainly overjoyed, many were left wondering on as to why and how it came to be free in the first place.

In an interview, Principal Mrs. Hatcher affirmed that, “This is the first year we are able to cover festival’s cost.” When asked to elaborate, Mrs. Hatcher explained that in prior years, the school’s budget cannot be spent on Festival as it wasn’t considered educational by the district. As Mrs. Hatcher clarifies, “Money for the event was already in the budget but couldn’t be used for festival as it wasn’t considered an educational experience by the district in previous years.” However, after performing the proper paperwork and applications for its funding, Mrs. Hatcher states that, “This year, the district approved Title 1 spending for the Festival as an educational experience.”

To clarify, Title 1 is a federal aid program that provides need-based funding to schools in order to ensure that the students obtain fair and improved education. Mrs. Hatcher  communicates that, “Now, thanks to the district’s approval, we can cover the trip’s full cost, but not food or t-shirts, of course.”

Orchestral Conductor Mr. O’Rane concurred with Mrs. Hatcher, agreeing that, “Yes, that’s how festival came to be free.” When asked whether or not this use of the school’s budget would hinder other events or activities, Mrs. Hatcher affirmed that, “Money for the event wasn’t taken from another thing.”

The covering of Festival’s cost is liberating for both the students and music teachers alike, as ensuring every musician’s presence on stage without a price tag over $100 is a huge relief for the music department as a whole. Mr. Harps has expressed concerned with how not all musicians were unable to come perform as it was simply too expensive and unaffordable for some. Senior Flutist Ashley Cano agrees, stating that, “I believe that festival becoming free is extremely beneficial to all music students, but is even better for seniors.” Elaborating, Ashley continues, stating that, “Because we have so much to pay for, like the senior’s package and my Honors Performance Series payments, it is gratifying to have one less thing off my plate.”

While all performing students were grateful for this announcement, many were wondering whether or not Festival would continue being free or if the trend of student payment would simply continue as it had prior to the district’s approval. In response to these concerns, Mr. Harps simply replied, “I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.” Uncertain of the future himself, Mr. Harps commented that, “We won’t know if festival will continue to be free or if this is a one time thing.”

Despite the uncertainty concerning Festival’s price for students in the future, it is without doubt that this year, the students can rest easier knowing that they will be given the opportunity to showcase their very best musical performances without a price tag looming over them.