In June this year, at the Music Advocacy Group (MAG) annual meeting and reception, the board received a remarkable challenge. Four generous island donors stood up and pledged to match, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000 in donations from the community before the end of 2017. The money raised would go to the establishment of the Joyce Burghardt Excellence In Music Fund, in honor of newly-retired founding board member, Joyce Burghardt, whose ideas and decades of work in school music advocacy have helped sustain the music program at Orcas Island Public Schools through some tight times.
As of November 1, a month before the end of the fundraising campaign, the $10,000 target has been met and exceeded. Over $17,000 has been raised so far in community donations, thus enabling MAG to earn the full amount of the pledged funds.
“The community has once again demonstrated their unwavering belief in the value of music education for our youth, beginning at school,” said Miriam Ziegler, President of MAG. “This fund will have the explicit purpose of promoting excellence in student achievement and skills, giving us flexibility, as never before, to provide next-step learning and passion-inspiring experiences that match our students’ talents.”
The Orcas Island School District has produced band and strings ensembles that consistently earn ‘superior’ ratings at regional contests, despite its size. The Burghardt Fund will supplement existing basic gifts to music education at the public schools, focusing on identifying innovative ways to raise the bar of our students’ musical talents and motivate practice for excellence. It will also provide greater access for more music students who demonstrate skill and commitment.
In consultation with Orcas school district’s music teachers, strings director Pamela Wright and band director Darren Dix, a portion of Burghardt funds have been earmarked to purchase SmartMusic, a practice assignment software package, as well as six Chromebooks for the classrooms and practice rooms, allowing students to practice, record and submit assignments with the help of technology. And with Burghardt Fund support, two talented band students who successfully auditioned will be representing Orcas at the Western International Band Clinic (WIBC) this November. In past years, some students have hesitated to audition for such events in part because of the registration fees and other costs.
MAG’s basic mission of advocating for and sustaining basic music education in school remains unchanged. The annual Spring concert that has brought together over 100 island musicians every year for the last twenty years is the primary fundraiser that will continue to provide financial assistance to the school music program. Donations raised through the Spring concert and other efforts like the Orcas Island Community Foundation’s upcoming Holiday Catalog go toward supporting more than half the school’s annual budget for music education. This includes paying for musical instruments, sheet music and other supplies, and for student transportation to off-island competitions with their peers from other schools.
Donations to the Joyce Burghardt Excellence in Music Fund and to MAG’s regular fund for basic support of school music can be mailed to MAG at P.O. Box 1171, Eastsound, WA 92845, or visit www.OIMAG.org to make a contribution on-line. On-line donations are routed through the Orcas Island Community Foundation. MAG is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations are tax deductible.