The band plays on |

The band plays on

Teri Vance
Nevada Appeal News Service
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

When Christina Bourne took over the music program at Empire Elementary School six years ago, there were eight students in the band class.

And no instruments.

Students who didn’t have an instrument or couldn’t afford to rent one practiced fingering the notes in the air.

There were no brass players so the band lacked balance. But on one day of the year, they were a real band. At the school district’s annual Band-o-Rama, fifth-grade students joined with middle and high school bands to perform a concert.

Now, Bourne’s band program has grown to 45 students with instruments available in the classroom, after the community made donations.

“It’s amazing because now we’re overflowing,” Bourne said.

But Band-o-Rama still plays a significant role for her students.

“This is by far their favorite concert of the year,” she said. “Every group really looks forward to it.”

Her students joined with band members throughout the district Thursday evening for the 16th annual Band-o-Rama in the high school gym.

Cesar Moreno, 11, a trombone player from Fritsch Elementary School, said he was “kinda nervous but excited.”

“For me, it feels like we actually get into the performance,” he said. “We’re showing our pride in our band.”

Sandra Irvin, music teacher at Fremont Elementary School, said the concert benefits both students and the community.

“For the students, they get to see what they get to play the next year and the year after that,” she said. “And they have the positive role models of the older kids who walk by and they see band is cool.

“For the community, they see a floor filled with kids doing something extremely positive that they can do for the rest of their lives.”

Isabella, an 11-year-old percussion player at Mark Twain Elementary School, said she sees it as something she will pursue for the rest of her life.

“I bet I will,” she said. “I really like music. I just don’t want to stop.”

It’s a sentiment Bourne understands. As a student in Carson City schools, she participated in Band-o-Rama in fifth grade, middle school and high school before returning as a teacher.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” she said. “I know what they’re going through. It’s exciting.”

– Contact reporter Teri Vance at or 881-1272.