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November 26, 2013

High school band boosters seek sponsor for Christmas event

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

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The Royal Oak High School Jazz Band plays in May at the high school’s centennial celebration. The Royal Oak High School Band and Orchestra Boosters is looking for a large sponsor to help the annual Jingle Bell Jazz Christmas program grow to a citywide event.

ROYAL OAK — Six years ago, when the Royal Oak High School Jazz Band first started putting on Jingle Bell Jazz inside the Elks Lodge, David Jensen, the director of high school bands and orchestras, said he envisioned making it a citywide event.

“I’ve known right from the beginning of Jingle Bell Jazz that I wanted to see it grow,” said Jensen, the director of high school bands and orchestras. “I kind of envision seeing it as a citywide Christmas party.”

Now, he and the Royal Oak High School Band and Orchestra Boosters are looking for corporate or city sponsors for the Christmas program that could help them achieve the goal.

The annual program, which will be from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 19 this year inside the Royal Oak Farmers Market, has the high school and middle school students playing jazzy versions of traditional Christmas carols. Jingle Bell Jazz highlights and makes residents aware of the talent within the music program at the high school and junior high school levels.

“It’s a showcase of talent for the kids,” said David Pizzini, the marketing and community director for the band boosters; he also has a daughter in the wind ensemble. “It also puts the city in the right light.”

Additionally, the event is a fundraiser for the high school band, but Pizzini said of all the band’s fundraisers, the event yields the least amount of money for the high school program.

He said it costs the boosters about $3,000 to put on the event. They usually walk away with $1,500 after costs.

“We want to make this a community event, but in order to do that, we need a sponsor,” Pizzini said.

The music program receives funding from the district, but like every department, the budget has been shrinking as local property values and state funding have decreased over the last five years.

“We get a little bit less and less every year, and that’s not just music,” Jensen said. “That’s everybody.”

Despite that, Jensen said he is grateful to receive any funding at all from the district. As part of the Michigan Band and Orchestra Association, he hears of public school districts in Michigan reducing band budgets to nothing.

“There are a countless number of school districts that do not get any funding and rely solely on booster fundraisers,” Jensen said.

In addition to district funding, the music program has local corporate sponsors like McCourt’s Music in Berkley and Royal Oak Ford.

“There is money there. However, that is usually gone through pretty quickly,” Pizzini said.

Pizzini said extra money would be used toward instrument replacement or upgrades, new sound equipment and a trailer designed to transport the instruments.

Those interested in establishing a sponsorship with Royal Oak High School band can contact Pizzini at (248) 229-5002 or at davidpizzini@yahoo.com.

Tickets for this year’s Jingle Bell Jazz cost $15 for adults and children older than 10, $8 for children younger than 10 and $12 for seniors ages 60 and older.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Joan Devera at (248) 496-1193.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.