Three Green Hope High School students have found a way to pursue their passion for music while making some money for their school’s band program.
Ryan Mulder, an 18-year-old senior at Green Hope, wanted another excuse to play music. So he convinced two friends – Neel Prabhu and Christian Boletchek – to form the Sounds of Jazz Trio.
The group got its first gig last summer, in the dining room of Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. The trio has since performed in a few local restaurants, offering the smooth sounds of jazz as a dinner soundtrack.
The teens aren’t getting rich – they might make 20 bucks each in tips in a night – but a couple of gigs turned into a sort of school fundraiser.
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Thai Sushi & Spices on High House Road in Cary donated $600 to the Green Hope band for two Sounds of Jazz Trio performances at the restaurant, said Prabhu, 16.
“I think it’s a really great way of giving back to our program and getting known in the community,” he said.
There’s no doubt about it: Running a high school band isn’t cheap. One trombone can easily cost a month’s rent.
Athletics programs get some money from ticket sales. But let’s face it, people aren’t exactly busting down the auditorium doors to pay to listen to a school’s jazz ensemble.
So bands raise money.
Green Hope hosts Art in Motion, a competition for winter guards and percussion units, as a way to make money for the band program.
The Sounds of Jazz Trio hopes to keep performing, and to pick up more gigs in Cary.
Its future isn’t set in stone, of course. Mulder plans to attend UNC-Wilmington in the fall to study jazz. He’s been playing piano since he was 5, and he wants a career in music performance.
He’s gotten a taste for it during his local gigs.
“I want to please the audience,” Mulder said. “It’s always good when you get a good reaction.”
Prabhu is a junior this year, and Boletchek is a sophomore. So the group could carry on, during college breaks or through a new third member.
Of course, these over-achieving kids don’t have tons of free time. Prabhu, who plays clarinet in the trio, performs with the Triangle Youth Harmonic and with Green Hope ensembles.
Unlike Mulder, Prabhu hopes to keep music a hobby and not a career. He’s interested in studying science in college.
Boletchek, 16, who plays the bass for the trio, said high school band students are mostly accustomed to performing for band parents during shows and concerts. The Sounds of Jazz Trio allows them to branch out.
“It’s kind of a unique experience to expose new people to the music,” he said.
And to raise a little money.