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I am curious about the state of public school music programs in other places, and how they have been affected by budget pressures, emphasis on testing and the related focus on math and english, economics, etc.

I was going to do a poll (but had some issues setting it up - forgive my prior abortive post, for those who saw it) with categories such as "extra strong," "good, but with some issues and struggles," "still okay, but in decline," "weak/mediocre," and "public school music!?", but what I really want is to hear from other folks what is happening in your community.

I am in Berkeley, California, which is a bit of a weird bubble in a number of ways, but one of the good ways is that the school music programs still seem to be pretty strong, especially the jazz bands.

So how are things where you are?
 

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The high school program where I came from is doing way better than where it started.

The high school I graduated from is on its 6th now. It was endowed with brand new instruments, facilities etc etc. The first band director lasted about 2 years before he quit cause of the student's behaviour issues. The new band director has been there since then and the band program has risen because of him. We have a weak string program, and a jazz ensemble rehearses once a week during concert season (written charts, no improv solos). The Marching Band/Concert band is great though. They place well considering its almost a brand new school. They are gaining a big reputation around the community.

The choir program is really great and they get top scores when they go to competitions, as well.

The budget crisis has been hard on getting buses to travel and paying for competitions. Everything else is the same --at least from where I see it.
 

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Well, let me put it this way. I graduated 4 years ago. They've been through 3 band directors and they've gone from having world class jazz artists at their festivals to a little big band that I'm playing in this year. Its amazing the things that have had to go as a result of budget, I shouldn't be demonstrating jazz for 14-18 year olds. No way. The guest artists at festivals like that were probably the biggest inspiration to me as a young sax player.
 

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From what I hear things up in Mendocino County, California are pretty dismal. Programs are being scaled back, and the shifting demographic in the schools has been hard on the band programs.

California was already weak in terms of band programs. There are some good programs, but in general the programs had nowhere near the support you see in states like Texas.

I've heard that the first school band programs started during the Great Depression as a public works program to put out of work, ex vaudeville musicians to work. Now the Great Recession just might be the undoing of a lot of school bands.
 

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I am living in Huntington Park right now, but the High School I'm talking about is South East High School in the city of South Gate. Both in California.
 

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Indiana. We never worked with much budget before but it sounds like things are getting even worse and they're trying to have one person do the entire music program at schools with over 2000 people in them... crazy talk.
 

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Ireland: No idea how the music programs are doing here.

But parents and volunteers do the cleaning, the teaching and supply the public and/or church run schools with fuel for heating in some parts of the country.
 

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There are some very strong instrumental music programs in Utah that keep going year after year. What they all have in common is a skilled music teacher, support from the community, and support from the school administration. The weak programs typically have a turnover of directors in part due to the lack of support from parents and administrators. It takes 3 or 4 years to build an exemplary music program and 6 months for it to go down the toilet. In Utah with the lowest per pupil funding and largest class sizes in the nation, educators have learned how to do more with less. However, we are fast approaching the breaking point where that will no longer be possible as the demographics of the state changes.

As school budgets are slashed, teacher salaries frozen or reduced, and health insurance and retirement benefits eviscerated the best and brightest in our colleges and universities are no longer going to find a career in education attractive and are going to go into other fields. This includes music education as well. Now is the time for a groundswell of support from communities and local businesses for local music and arts programs to help get through the slump caused by the economic downturn.
 

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Just got a full Orff instrumentarium for my elementary classroom. Teacher pay is solid, no talk of program cuts, annual raises still happening. Kind of glad I didn't get that job in Wisconsin I applied for :). I'm in Soldotna, Alaska.
 

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In our suburban town, the public high school just built a new band hall three years ago and now they are planning to knock out a wall and make it bigger because the high school band has growth so large. Everything seems to be going great. But I'm afraid the band director is working herself to death. And if it wasn't for all the free interns from the nearby university (at which her husband is the music program director), I don't think there would be enough staff to run things. So I guess a big ol' "Hooray" for college student slave labor is in order about now. :bluewink:
 

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Here in Texas, our school almost did not even go to playoff football games this year due to transportation cost of the 200+ member marching band... Also budget cuts that hurts us financially because we are in desperate need and repair of instruments espeically low reeds. But we're still standing tall, just not as tall
 

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I teach a lot of private students in the surrounding counties of North Atlanta (North Fulton, Cobb, Cherokee). I also have the privilege of being called in to work with a number of the sax sections in the public schools. I have to say that here it varies and largely depends on the initiative of the band directors and support offered by the booster clubs. Many of the programs have suffered from budget cuts and the elimination of elementary school band programs, but there is still a lot of determination to maintain successful programs at many of the schools. Hopefully this will endure through continued hard times.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
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Teaching at the State School f/t blind in Ohio, we have about 130 some kids k-12. The High school band is 30+ kids, over double what it was when I first came here. About 70%of the high school population plays in band.

We have to be completely self funded, there are no dollars available for us, so keeping the program going is tough, paying for band camp, repairs, equipment, travel for performances, etc.
 

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I teach band in North Idaho, my program 6-12 has about 150 students with steady growth each year. Since it is a small town, it has been the community support that has kept the program going despite the fact that I am the 4th director in 8 years.

There are a number of very strong music programs nearby, including the school I graduated from. Community and parental support is what keeps these programs running.
 
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