INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 14, 2009)—The recession has hit most schools pretty hard, and if it didn’t hit the schools directly, it has often hit people associated with the schools, especially students, on a personal level.
The marching band from Lawrence Central High School uses a credit card as a field prop, one of the biggest traps we capitalists have. But credit card debt isn’t all we’ve got, and these students know it, as they embark on a journey that is increasingly hard to overcome.
The average debt of 2008 college graduates who carried loans was $23,200—up almost 25 percent, or $4,550, when compared with loans carried by graduates just four years earlier, the latest study released by the Project on Student Debt reports.
The study also points out that employment prospects for recent college graduates have soured since the recession.
Furthermore, scholarship help from private entities, like Bands of America, often comes in amounts that are too small to make a dent in real college costs.
Before the championship bands were announced at the Grand Nationals closing ceremony, the Music for All Foundation awarded scholarships to three seniors planning to pursue degrees in music education.
David Nelson of Miamisburg (Ohio) High School received the $2,000 Jolesch Scholarship; Brandon Allen from West Johnston High School (Benson, N.C.) received the $1,000 Yamaha Scholarship; and Kyle Kraft from South Brunswick High School (Monmouth Junction, N.J.) received the $1,000 Fred J. Miller Family Scholarship.
Travel expenses reduced
The Music for All Foundation—and not surprisingly, many of the bands here—have PayPal “Donate” buttons on their Web sites. They do what they can to cut costs, we have to hope, but money is in increasingly short supply compared to these organizations’ growing need for it.
Lawrence Central is right here in Indianapolis, and that means lower travel expenses for the band. Representation from around the country at these Grand Nationals, however, shows a definite pattern of decreasing involvement from states outside the Midwest and the Texas/Oklahoma corridor:
Thirty states sent no band to Grand Nationals, and nine states—Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin—sent one band.
The table below shows the other states sending bands, along with the number of bands they sent:
|State||Number of Bands|
And even though Ohio sent as many bands as Indiana and Kentucky combined, Lawrence Central’s show packed enough power to match all 91 bands here. It has four movements and opens with two proclaimed on a huge banner: “Greed” and “Oppression.” The announcer tells us, “This is the end.”
Pounding percussion begins to push through cataclysmic chords in the winds—total anarchy begins to look like it would be a welcome relief from the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, driven home as well by the formation of a dollar sign on the field.
But then color guard uniforms change from the orange and black colors of the third movement, “Fear,” into the white and water-blue colors of the show’s final movement, “Renewal.”
Many leave their instruments on the ground and form a circle, hoisting a dog up in triumph, mastering his own fate as we all express great hope in the future.
“This is a chance, a chance to begin again,” the announcer says, as two marchers give each other a huge friendship hug, underscored by the closing cadences.
That chance to begin again, in college or on a job, has become more elusive for students during the recession, just as travel to the Grand Nationals has become more difficult for bands. Somehow, though, college graduates four or five years hence will hear these words again, in their minds and hearts, when they once again renew themselves.
Lawrence Central High School, established in 1964, brings a marching band across town to Lucas Oil Stadium for its semi-final and final performance at the Bands of America Grand National Championships. The band is directed by Randy Greenwell and Matt James; drum majors are Chris Taylor, Cal Lennon, and Ryan Gandy.