Still No Money For Music: Lack of Support and Funding for Music in DCPS


JUNE 12, 2014.  Does music even matter anymore?  Students in marching bands work hard for numerous months only to receive little support.  They work from the beginning of the school year until the end of the school and sometimes all the way through to next school year.  Although the students put in so much time and hard work it seems to still be unrecognized.  People don’t see the need for marching bands, when they don’t even realize how hard they work or the time they put in, as well as the benefits of being in a marching band. Marching bands are needed for many reasons- one being entertainment.  Marching bands are the heart of the school’s pride. Being in a marching band you get the benefits of becoming self-assured and building strong bonds with you sections as well as the directors.

In the 90’s, music programs in the District of Columbia were important to the kids because it brought out their creativity and artistry. The key to good music programs was the support from the community as well as the school. Funding for most music programs were median and required creative ways for the staff to raise money. Unlike the sports teams,  many DCPS music programs didn’t have a budget to operate from. However, the music programs were able to earn funding from performance events, festivals and participating in small productions for fundraisers.  These ways of funding have been the usual funding support for the last few decades, outside of car washes and product sales. Funding and support has become weaker in recent years, with the demise of many music programs. 

After talking to Marketer Lewis, dance coach of the Anacostia ebony dolls, she seemed to believe that the cause of lack of support and funding is due to the fact that people don’t see a need for marching bands. In the interview, Mrs. Lewis stated “People don’t realize how music and performing arts affects the students. It plays a pivotal part in the structure of the students. It teaches integrity and discipline.” As a current DCPS marching band member, I have admit that I agree with Mrs. Lewis. Being in marching band for 4 years has help to shape my character as far as the values such as discipline and structure, which are taught in marching band. Marching band has also helped me to maintain a top 10 spot since 9th grade, as I’m currently ranked number 6 in my senior class of 2014. When music is as important as education you’re destined to do great in both.

Following the interview with Mrs. Lewis, I sat down with Keith Killgo, current member of The Blackbyrds, who is also the head band director of the Anacostia marching band. His point of view seemed to differ from mine. He seems to feel that the lack of support is because there are no advocates in the school’s administration who are musicians. He also feels that there’s no one fighting for it. In the interview Mr. Killgo stated, “When the Ronald Ragan administration started taking funds out of schools, the arts and music suffered heavy.” Throughout my four years of marching band I’ve known the funding support to be low. Like most directors in DCPS, many had to pay out of their pockets for necessities such as mouthpieces, dance shoes, drum heads and flag caps. How would you feel if you were doing something you have a passion and drive for, and no one seems to support what you’re doing, How would you feel?

Instead of ignoring the kids who put in long hours with the music as well as academics, try seeing how you can help. There are many ways you can help, you just have to step up and take action. You can partner up with a DCPS marching band and start a support group. The support group should consist of adults who are able to provide funding as well as support. Also these support groups should be able to advocate for the marching band that they’re in partnership with. We as the kids of the future need your support. For some of us music is our only escape, but how can we go so far with little support. He who ignores a student’s talents and hard work misses the opportunity to inspire a student’s progress and creativity.

Although marching band music isn’t a popular genre of music, it's still music. Just imagine life without music. Music is everything. Music can help with just about everything. I’m sure there has been a time when you seem to only have music to turn to for whatever the issue was. Let that marinate for a while. What if music was to cease for good and there were no form of music left? What would the world for you be like? How would you cope with it? What is left for you turn to when the only option you ever had is now ceased for good? Even if you feel there's no need for your support of DCPS marching bands, still think about some other music programs. For some kids, music is their only way out. 

Nicholas Moses is a senior at The Academies at Anacostia.