Keeping Kids Jazzed About Music

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Maus Middle School in Frisco, Texas is a public school helping create future success in its students by instilling pride, embracing diversity, and promoting a love of the arts.

Their music program is especially popular, with almost 20% of the student body participating in the Maus Orchestra. But with that many students, it puts a strain on an already tight public school budget.

The orchestra at Maus Middle School focuses on giving students real experiences with professional musicians and competitions with other schools. “We want to give our students opportunities, says Jamie Romo, Director of the Maus Middle School Orchestra, “but it all costs money.”

The bulk of their fundraising is used to pay for private lessons and trips to performances of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “Paying professionals to tutor our students can be expensive,” says Jamie. “But the kids learn so much and it shows. We’re playing more difficult music and we’re scoring better in contests. It’s really worth every penny.”

Jamie says being transparent early and often about where the funds will go is an essential tool of success. “We make a list at the start of the school year so students see what we plan to do with the money. They take the list home to their parents so they can also see the great things we’re planning to do with the money we raise.”

Mixed Bag also helps Jamie inject some friendly competition into the fundraising experience, with reports and dashboards. “The kids constantly asked which class was ahead, so we drew up big thermometers and colored them in everyday to track the leaders,” Jamie added.

Jamie says the Mixed Bag program is a far cry from more traditional fundraising methods that she was accustomed to, like selling candy bars and wrapping paper. “When they showed me the Mixed Bag catalog, I instantly said, ‘Oh yes, we’re doing this!’”

Jamie’s seeing more students stick with music beyond middle school. “Everything makes a difference for kids at this age,” Jamie added. “When they get this excited, they’re more likely to continue playing music into. We couldn’t do those things without Mixed Bag.”

That’s a tune Mixed Bag is happy to help carry.

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