Riverboat Funds Help the Band Play On at East Aurora School District 131
- This article is part of a series featuring some of the nonprofits and units of government that were recipients of Grand Victoria Casino Riverboat funds. The mission of riverboat funding is to promote education, the environment and the local economy.
In the 1962 musical The Music Man, “Professor” Harold Hill arrives in River City, Iowa, and introduces the community to the transformative power of music.
In 2017, we have our own version of The Music Man right here in the river city of Aurora, IL, where a program supported by Grand Victoria Casino Riverboat funds is helping to transform the lives of young people.
East Aurora School District 131 recently received a check for $39,943 that will help pay for band instruments for low-income students and support a program that has been an inspiration for people in Aurora and throughout Kane County.
About the D131 Band Program
The East Aurora band program is comprised of concert band, wind ensemble, symphonic band, wind symphony, latin jazz, jazz
ensemble and marching band.
District 131’s band program performs for a variety of community service groups and functions in the Kane County region, including formal concerts, holiday events, basketball games, football games, local governmental and holiday celebrations, and local religious and nursing home performances.
The jazz ensemble is a premiere-performing ensemble.
“The emphasis is placed of a variety of music styles that include opportunities for improvisation and soloing,” East said in its application for the riverboat grant.
The student populations performing in the ensemble are low-income Latino and African American students.
In the last three years, the program has become so popular in the community and among the students that it has more than doubled in size. It has won many awards, including multiple Division 1 ratings at the UIC Jazz Festival and a Division 2 rating at the Purdue Jazz Festival. The Wind Ensemble has received three Division 2 ratings at the IHSA Organization Competition and a Division 1 rating at the IHSA competition in 2015.
The Marching Band has been invited to perform at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
Up to 60 students per year have performed at the IHSA Solo and Ensemble Contest over the past three to four years, earning multiple Division 1 and 2 ratings working alone or in small ensembles from two to five players.
What the Grant Does
This grant will serve 250 low-income, primarily Hispanic students (ages 16-19) participating in the band program.
On a frequent basis, the band director reviews and seeks the students input on every aspect of the band’s program. For example, he consults them on performance schedule, lead performers and soloists, improve tributes, music selection and celebrations, and the calendar. These student leaders are then responsible for coordinating practices, the other students, the music, the performance schedule, the outreach component to their specialty.
This requirement also fulfills the students’ graduation requirement to have a minimum of 40 hours of service before graduation. Student leaders then become the community ambassadors for the school and the band’s outreach program.
The student leaders are also asked to represent the band and the school on multiple committees within the community such as the East Aurora School District 131 Community Advisory meetings, the local Aurora Community Band, local church musical performances and groups, and other for-profit and non-profit performing arts organizations in the area.
The riverboat grant covers about one-third of the District 131 overall project cost.
SOURCE: District 131 website, riverboat grant application