By GARY POPP
Music often tugs at the heartstrings, but Henryville band teacher Shanna Ledbetter says it also gets her students thinking.
“To perform music you have to use all parts of your brain,” Ledbetter said. “I tell my kids, ‘It makes you smarter.’ And, we get the best kids in the program, too. I do have the best kids.”
Those kids came together with the community Saturday to host a carnival-themed event in the high school’s gymnasium to raise money to keep student musicians marching to the same beat for another year. The annual event is the largest fundraiser for the music program, organizers said.
The Henryville Jr.-Sr. High School music program offers aspiring musicians an array of options to explore their inner musical talent. Seventh-graders to high school seniors can choose to take a concert-band class, which is taught in a classroom, and programs outside of the school building, which are marching band, pep band, choir, color guard and winter percussion.
No matter in which program the child finds his or her rhythm, what they all seem to share is a strong sense of community.
“We are a family," Ledbetter said. “First and foremost, we are a family that comes together to make music, to perform.”
Ledbetter said the annual fundraiser is crucial to the health of the schools’ music program.
“It allows us to raise enough money to continue all of our programs,” she said. “We have lots and lots of expenses.”
Ledbetter said the costs of sustaining the programs include transportation of getting the students to competitive events, uniforms and instruments.
Samuel Nein, 17, a percussionist in the Henryville Golden Band, the high school’s marching band, became involved in Henryville Jr.-Sr. High School’s music programs as a seventh-grader. He said the programs have allowed him to find his niche in high school, a time and place often dominated by sports culture.
“I am not really the most athletic kid out there, so music is something where I can go out there and do my own thing,” he said.
Nein added that he thought it “was pretty great” that the Henryville community comes to the fundraiser each year.
“It shows a lot of support for the band, which isn’t something you see in every community,” he said. “It show a lot of support, and it’s appreciated.”
Through his experience in the music program, Nein has found that music is unique because it encompassed his other areas of study.
“Music is one of those things where all classes come together. Math, history, everything comes together with the music,” he said. “It’s important to have it. It is an expressional thing.”
Henryville High School senior and tenor sax player Rachael Dixon, 18, said she found a home in the schools’ music program after her family moved to the area.
“It is a sense of pride,” she said of being part of the program. “All the people involved in band and choir, they are very good people to rely on, so whenever there is a problem at school, home, or whatever, you know you will always have those people.”
Like Ledbetter and many others in the music programs, Dixon feels a special atmosphere, something she said she will miss after graduation.
“We are kind of like a big family,” she said.
The event including the crowing of a king and queen from the high school and a princess and princess from the junior high. Among the 22 band and choir members involved in the contest, those crowned were the students who earned the most money for the music program.
Dixon said students have spend the last month selling suckers, T-shirts, animal balloons, doughnuts, “and just about anything” to raise money and, possibly, earn royalty status with the crowns.
The largest fundraisers were: Queen Jennifer Carpenter, King Daniel Grawitch, Princess Ashleigh Quiggins and Prince Danny Daugherty