“Not-So-Silent Night”

2023 Community Involvement Award Recipient

Snow Canyon Middle School Bands

Snow Canyon Middle School
St. George, Utah

Karen Sewell, president of the Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation, announces the donation of more than 800 children’s books at Bandfest.


As a member of the Saluting America’s Band Director’s Band in the Rose Parade, I was challenged to serve my community alongside my band. My two bands joined with three elementary schools in collecting brand new children’s books for LeVar Burton to distribute to children across America. Our bands performed with two elementary choirs and an elementary Orff Ensemble in front of a packed audience. The audience was specifically made of families that will be enrolling their children into our band and orchestra. It was my goal to serve with them and allow them to participate in our Winter Concert.


I had three main objectives in our project:

  1. Create a service project that would be impactful and would involve my students and their families.
  2. Create an opportunity for parents of our feeder elementary schools to be introduced to our band program before their children attend our school.
  3. Allow elementary students to participate directly with our middle school students in a musical performance experience with my band.

Objective 1: All members of the Saluting America’s Band Director’s Band (SABD) were asked to bring a new children’s book with us to give as a gift to the Grand Marshal, LeVar Burton. We were also given a unique opportunity to create a service project with our bands as a way to link each band to the others across the nation. I chose to participate by combining the two by collecting books with my band and their families. The students advertised the book collection and made a goal of collecting 100 books. It was very successful and we collected just over the goal mark.

Objective 2: Parents love to support their children but don’t often know of future opportunities. I believe it is necessary for parents to see the band in order for parents to sign their children up for band. Inviting elementary parents to participate in our book drive and inviting them to our performance gave them that opportunity.

Objective 3: Elementary students (specifically 4th and 5th graders) need to be exposed to performance groups in order to see what they will be able to do in the future. Their involvement in the performance was the perfect way to motivate them to join band when they reach middle school.

Target Audience

Our target audiences were the elementary students and their parents. We want to encourage them to join band when they register for middle school.

We often reach out to the elementary schools to hold assemblies that introduce our groups to the students. Many elementary students walk away happy and excited to one day play an instrument. We rarely have parents involved in the experience. We know, however, that if we really want to have a long-lasting impact on student enrollment and retention, we need to involve parents in the process. Parents hold the key to student participation in instrumental music. When we show them what can be done in instrumental music, students are more likely to participate and KEEP participating.


I started reaching out to elementary music teachers in late September. Our schools collaborated on pieces we would perform at a Winter Concert and began preparing music.

The middle school band students began advertising the book drive in November. They created goals and made school announcements. Emails went out to parents two weeks before the concert.

Each school music teacher was responsible to inform parents about the joint concert and invite them to attend. Likewise, each teacher was responsible to prepare the music at their school with not planned joint rehearsal until the night of the concert.

The concert was mid-December. All of the middle and elementary students arrived 30 min. prior to the concert to run-through the specific combined pieces. The middle school students were in charge of the concert, introduced all of the music, and then gave the elementary students each a small gift at the end.

Overview of Planning and Execution

Hayley Winslow (me): Prepare and direct the SCMS Concert and Symphonic Bands. Coordinate with the three elementary music teachers on scheduling and rehearsing, distribute music, assist and coach the Band Council regarding the book drive, and ensure all is done in a timely manner.

SCMS Band Council: Create goals, make plans, and carry-out the book drive.

Jamie Stucki: Prepare and direct the Santa Clara Elementary Choir

Cathy McCann: Prepare and direct the Arrowhead/Paradise Canyon Elementary Orff Ensemble.

Jared Nicholson: Prepare and direct the Sunset Sensations Choir.

Tools and Resources

We had very simple strategies in our advocacy plans. Our most effective resource were the positive relationships that were previously established between the teachers. It was a pleasant collaboration because the relationships were already built and it was easy for all of us to work together. In addition, all of our administrations were supportive of the plan and how it might affect the future enrollment in our band and orchestra programs.

Marketing and Promotion

We were able to enlist our school secretaries in releasing information to parents through email. We were fortunate to have an active Band Council that made announcements each day over the intercom. We advertised the concert and book drive on Social Media. Our biggest and most effective marketing was done by students simply through word-of-mouth.

All of our marketing greatly affected the amount of books brought in for the book drive. We also saw our largest audience numbers of the year with over 600 people in attendance at our Winter Concert.


We spent $55 on gifts for the elementary school students that participated.


The only obstacle we had was in acquiring the books. The students were not feeling supported at the beginning of the drive because they were not getting many books turned in. Eventually, they began motivating students by making more announcements and creating a thermometer that showed progress. I saw this obstacle as a positive growth lesson for our Band Council.

Success/Effectiveness Measurement

YES! This initiative was a great success!

Objective 1: Create a service project that would be impactful and would involve my students and their families.

Evidence: We obtained over 100 books and they were given to LeVar Burton to distribute to students across America.

Objective 2: Create an opportunity for parents of our feeder elementary schools to be introduced to our band program before their children attend our school.

Evidence: 600 people attended our Winter Concert. The majority were families of the elementary students that were performing.

Objective 3: Allow elementary students to participate directly with our middle school students in a musical performance experience with my band.

Evidence: 160 elementary students performed with the SCMS Bands in a joint concert and were so excited and happy to do so!

Community Impact

In addition to the evidence of our success, we have a 30% rise in beginning orchestra numbers and a 50% rise in beginning band numbers from last year.

This tells us that our community values the work we are doing. They only needed an invitation and a reason to attend a concert to see the good it does for students.

Advice for others?

I suggest talking to your elementary teachers as far in advance as possible. We felt a little short on time.

Involve your Council in as much of the planning as you can. It was such a great experience for them to be the leaders in the Service Project.