March is Music in Our Schools Month, and instrumentalists at Granville high school are keeping in tune with that theme.
Between the All-County Festival, the Jazz Café and the Jazz Ensemble’s trip to the Empire State Plaza, Crystal Everdyke and the band are fairly busy.
“We’ve been practicing together a lot and having lengthier rehearsals,” Everdyke said of getting prepared.
This year’s All-County, on March 15 and 16, is especially exciting for local students, as Granville will be hosting more than 200 kids at the annual event. Everdyke said last time the school was slated to host was in 2007, but the festival was canceled due to a blizzard.
“It’s a great idea, kids get to meet and play with kids from other districts. The teachers also get ideas and music from each other,” Everdyke said.
In January, prospective students from all over the county went to Fort Edward to audition with the Washington County Area Music Teacher’s Asssociation (WCAMTA,) who organizes the festival. While there was no set number of players to be selected from each school, the judges picked the top students for each instrument.
Everdyke said both she and members of the band are excited for the packed, two-day event.
“It’s an incredibly busy weekend. I look forward to it all year; it takes lots of planning,” she said. Because the Granville auditorium is smaller than others, there is only room for family members of performers to attend.
The following week on Thursday, March 21, the students will hold their annual jazz café.
Everdyke said this is the band’s biggest in-house fundraiser, and both the students and the community seem to enjoy it.
The cafeteria will be decorated like a French café, and the jazz ensemble will play 12 songs and will sell refreshments like cookies and coffee. The sixth-grade band will open the event with two songs.
There will also be an auction with fancy pies, cakes, baked goods, and of course, a longtime, big seller.
“We’ll have the 5-pound Hershey bar again this year,” Everdyke said, surprised that it sold for $200 last year.
Funds from the event go toward such necessities as marching band uniforms, t-shirts and other items, which the band buys all on its own. The money raised will also help send the senior band to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania in two years. At last year’s event, the students sold more than $12,000 in frozen cookie dough alone.
And the students culminate their active month with their favorite trip, on March 28, to the Empire State Plaza. They play at the capitol for everyone during lunch hour, one of various bands that do so throughout March.
“Performing organizations all through New York state apply to play, and we’ve been chosen almost every year the past 20 years,” Everdyke said.
She said she is grateful to the Band Boosters, a group of parents and community members who help with organizing, decorating and chaperoning events.
“I could not do my job without the band boosters; we have a lot of support,” she said, and she thanked Brent Tuttle for playing piano for the band.
Everdyke thinks a full band schedule is a good thing, and said countless studies have linked better musical performance to better grades.
“The kids need the opportunity to make music, which is such a presence in their lives,” she said. “Music is something you can do the rest of your life.”