MAYNARD — Downtown Disney will likely be the biggest stage most members of the Maynard band and chorus have ever faced.
Thirty other bands will be on hand, competing for the title of best in show. Some of the most recognizable faces — and ears — in entertainment will be in the crowd. It’s enough to make a strong man die of fright.
Or is it?
“It’s no different than any other performance. Everything is the same,” said senior Ryan Robichaud. “And there will be all these goofy characters in the crowd. It’s hard to be nervous in front of Mickey Mouse.”
No different for Robichaud, maybe. But this trip to Florida for Festival Disney has been more than four years in the making. In the past, big trips normally came every two years. The last major trip scheduled for the band was nixed following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. For director Cindy Erickson, that means no member of the current crew has ever taken a long overnight trip with the band.
“It’s the first time any of the kids in this building have been on a big trip,” she said.
The 100 kids going span the age range but all have a few things in common: They’ve maintained good grades, they have earned community service points and they can all play. Several, including Becky Thorburn and Bryan and Kevin Kozik have earned state honors for their ability.
The kids have been working on raising money since last September to help pay for the trip.
Sending 100 students to Florida doesn’t come cheap. About $850 gets them airfare and passes to the Disney theme park. But that doesn’t include food, said parent Becky Mosca. She said it is estimated food will cost $40 per day while in Disney, possibly more if hot weather requires the students to drink more, she noted.
“We’re still taking donations,” Mosca said. “to help pay off some of those meals.”
Some students are also still looking for help with airfare, Mosca said.
In addition, Mosca said chaperones, each responsible for eight students, want to buy matching T-shirts to better keep track of the large number of students not only in Disney, but when switching from airport to bus, from bus to hotel and back.
“We want everyone to have the same T-shirts so they are easy to locate,” Mosca said, noting some of that cost has been paid from a community policing grant.
Since June, the Friends of the Maynard Music Program has held four fund-raisers, including a car wash, a craft fair, and a Christmas concert. The final fund-raiser, a spaghetti supper, took place Saturday at the high school. That pasta and jazz event earned the band some $1,500 for the journey.
Along with cash donations, several local businesses donated gift certificates for a raffle, Mosca said.
In addition to competing with bands from all over the world, band members will also take part in a program the nation’s music teachers hope will “restore America’s voice.”
The band has been invited to perform the national anthem as part of the National Association for Music Education’s “National Anthem Project.”
The multiyear project aims to “re-teach” American students not only the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but also the historical con of Francis Scott Key’s words and the nation’s desire to have its own national anthem.
The association started the program after a Harris Poll showed two of three Americans do not know the words to the national anthem and many more do not know what Key’s words referred to.
Erickson said the program kicked off in Washington on March 10. One goal, according to a press release from the organization, it to get citizens away from the habit of listening to soloists sing the anthem at events. Rather, they seek to have everyone sing the anthem together.
Hundreds of students sang the anthem in Washington, while millions more nationwide timed singing in their own districts to coincide with the Washington event. Sponsored by Jeep, the program will include events at schools and major sporting events, involving groups like the Girl Scouts, the American Legion and the History Channel. Musicians involved include the Oak Ridge Boys.
More information can be found at www.thenationalanthemproject.org.