Band-Aid? Only If Needed
Could the school's music program benefit from more support?
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By Manuel Carlos
Is the Weston Ranch High School Music Program underfunded?
A growing number of students believe the various programs that fall under the school’s music umbrella could benefit from a boost of money, if not publicity and greater exposure.
Veteran band and orchestra students Jennifer Watan (’18), Alelih Galvadores (’18), James Luna (’18) and Lorenzo Galfo (’17) are among the students who would agree the program deserves more support. Watan, Galvadores, Luna and Galfo shared their feeling about their school’s music program with The Prowl.
The students held a collective cause for concern – one for future students and underclassmen who will not have the same resources that support them to fuel their passion and their drive, both necessary for success.
Weston Ranch Director of Band and Orchestra Joe Barron has a different perspective.
“I don’t have any big complaints about funding,” Barron told The Prowl. “Sure, all funding in all schools is, I think, not necessarily adequate. But you know, we do with what we got, as best we can, and so I don’t think that’s necessarily an issue.” Barron added, “My number one goal is music education.”
With the support it does receive, there are certain areas where Weston Ranch stands out compared to other schools. One example is the orchestra. Weston Ranch High School is the only Manteca Unified School District (MUSD) to have an orchestra as a class and as a program. However, every other school in MUSD has an official marching band, while Weston Ranch does not have one. Having a marching band might require more funding.
It can be very costly to run a marching band. Barron tells The Prowl that the uniforms alone for such a program can cost from $15 to $20 a uniform to just clean, and with the possibility of up to 40 students in such a class, there is a substantial lack of funding to fuel such a program. This is unlike the Orchestra, of which only have the men’s suits washed for at most $10 each. Ladies’ dresses are machine washed. The classes are frequently smaller than other courses.
Then, there is the question of where and how the band takes part in school activities.
Last year, the band played as part of school’s spring musical, Cinderella.
This year, the musical will use pre-recorded sound instead of having the school band participate in this year’s musical, The Little Mermaid.
“It’s not a bad music program, just pretty underfunded,” Watan said. “I feel like we deserve a lot more credit than we actually get, and I feel like the school board should put more money into music programs that are actually like good, instead of sports programs that aren’t.”
Galvadores said, “I enjoy the music program, but it’s really up to the students if they really want to do a lot. It’s not like we’re encouraged by our band director to expand our horizons, and we just have to take it upon ourselves.”
Luna shared his experience, saying “It really is up to you how much want to succeed in becoming a musician in this program.”
Percussionist Lorenzo Galfo told The Prowl, “We do have a better program than other schools, I think we’re actually getting stuff done here, I’ve had a lot of fun here.”
Several students describe their instruments as ranging from “pretty good” to “functional.” According to Barron, more than half of the total number of music students rent or have purchased their own instruments.
The music program does have concerts and dances, but some students have noted some of these events lack appropriate promotion. Limited prior notice can lead to light attendance at events that also double as fundraisers for the program.
“I guess we should work on that, work on publicity.” Barron said.
Whether the band participates in the spring musical or not, whether the band receives overwhelming publicity or not, students like Galvadores will continue to play on.
“I’ve always had this passion for music,” Galvadores said, “and that’ll keep me going.”