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Whitefish band students set sights on New York City

by JULIE ENGLER
Hagadone News Network | November 11, 2023 12:00 AM

Start spreading the news, the Whitefish High School band is preparing for a trip to New York City. The group’s small town blues will melt away as they enjoy three days, April 24-28, in the Big Apple.

A trip will offer cultural, musical and educational experiences for the students. 

“This one is a bigger and better trip in a lot of ways,” said Matt King, band director. “We’re going to be touring all the great landmarks and cultural, historical [locations] around New York City, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Museum, the stock market district, the Metropolitan Museum of Art."

The group’s musical opportunities include seeing the New York Philharmonic, going to a show at the Blue Note Jazz Club and attending a Broadway show, most likely “Hamilton.”

One part of the educational component is a clinic with a Broadway musician.

“We’ll have a one-on-one with a Broadway musician who will walk us through an actual piece from a show and coach us through what it feels to do that with a singer and give us some feedback and a little clinic,” King said.

The students will also perform on board a permanently docked ship at a New York museum and King is in the process of organizing a side-by-side performance at a local middle or high school.

“We are looking to branch out and interact with a school and some people who probably have a quite different setting and culture than we do, and interact with them and get to experience how they do band,” King said. 

“There's just a plethora of opportunities in the city so we’re going to try to take advantage of everything we can while we’re there,” he added. “This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for a lot of these students.”

King said they have taken steps to make the trip’s cost as affordable as possible for the nearly 60 students who have signed up. Still, each student needs to raise $1,800 to cover their expenses.

“We do want the students to put an effort into raising their own funds for a big trip like this, for their own experience,” King said. “And we also want to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to help every student have the opportunity to go on the trip.”

The students have done a couple fundraisers and last spring raised $38,000 with an online platform. They kicked off another online fundraising cycle recently wherein each student has a unique webpage that monitors their progress toward their goals, but the best way for individuals to contribute to the band trip is to contact King directly.

King is also approaching businesses in town and said they have already given or pledged $10,000, an amount King called “phenomenal.” He has created a pledge sheet for businesses that lists specific, bigger ticket items that they can support. For example, if a business wanted to sponsor the Broadway show, the pledge sheet lists the total amount needed for that activity.

“If someone is passionate about [a particular activity] or a business would like to partner with us in that way, they can sponsor a specific activity which really helps us out in the bigger picture,” King said. “We find that people like to support awesome trips like this that are educational and they have been super generous in the past.”

Each contribution is 100% tax-deductible. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make this a holistic trip for the students,” King said. “It would be easy to just go and perform and we do that often ... but I think this really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to go experience culture and history in a way that is totally outside our normal, day-to-day life here in Montana.”

For more information call Matt King: 406-862-8600 ext. 420 or email kingm@whitefishschools.org.