Band fundraisers will fill the air Saturday

Iola Middle and High School band students will take part in two fundraisers Saturday. Middle school students will practice on the square all day. High schoolers will travel around the city, playing music until they are paid to leave and go elsewhere.

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April 20, 2021 - 9:44 AM

Iola High School band students march in a parade. The band is raising money to replenish its music fund, which was used to purchase drumline equipment. Photo by Vickie Moss

The city will be alive with the sound of music Saturday as Iola Middle and High School band students take part in two tuneful fundraisers.

Some of those notes, though, might not make your list of favorite things. For half the students, the goal is to keep playing.

For the other half, you’ll want them to stop.

The first fundraiser, for Iola Middle School students, is a familiar site. It’s the return of the “Practice-A-Thon,” a music marathon at the courthouse bandstand. Students will begin playing at 8 a.m. Saturday and continue as long as they are able. In past years, they’ve played well into the next morning.

Students collect pledges based on how long they play. For example, if students play 15 hours at a pledge of $10 per hour, they’d collect $150. Donors can also set a maximum pledge, or offer a flat donation.

The Practice-A-Thon began several years ago under previous music teacher Matt Kleopfer and was quite popular. 

The second fundraiser, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., is for Iola High School band students, who will introduce a new event: “Pay to Play, Pay to Go Away!” The goal, essentially, is to pay students to musically annoy someone until they pay them to go away and bother someone else.

Current IHS band teacher Brandi Holt has seen the fundraiser at other districts, and thought it might be fun to introduce it to Iola. 

Here’s how it works: A donor will pay for a small group of IHS band students (probably about four, playing a variety of instruments) to travel to someone’s house or business within the Iola city limits. They’ll play music — possibly in a very annoying fashion — until that resident or business owner pays them to go away and go to another destination. A flat donation can be made if the donor does not wish to send the group to someone else’s house.

“It’s kind of like ‘tag, you’re it,’” Holt said. “This is where we are going to need all the community’s support and engagement.”

THE fundraisers will raise money to replenish the school’s music fund and to pay for trips to music festivals and events next year.

Earlier this year, Holt spent $14,000 on new drumline equipment.

This is Holt’s first year at IHS, and she’s been focused on building interest in the school’s music program. 

She’s seen a significant spike in interest for the percussion instruments. At a recent recruitment for incoming sixth grade beginning band students, 13 out of 25 students want to play percussion next year.  This year’s beginning band class started with just seven students but has grown to 12.

“There’s like a wave of percussion happening right now.  I want to cultivate that,” Holt said. “And the students we have right now are showing a lot of drive. They’re showing grit, which is something this program really needs.”

To make a donation, contact Iola High School at 620-365-4715 or email Holt at brandi.holt@usd257.org

You also can watch IMS students practice at the bandstand.

IMS and IHS will offer a combined choir concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.

An IMS/IHS orchestra concert will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, at the Bowlus.

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