DECA club markets ‘grand’ concert to save music programs

March 23, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Students in Issaquah High School’s DECA club are getting a real-world education in marketing by volunteering their services to a nonprofit organization aimed at saving music programs in schools.This year, students in Issaquah’s Distribution Education Club of America program jumped at the chance to help the Snowman Foundation promote its second annual Ten Grands benefit for student music education programs.

“Music brings enjoyment to life,” said Denis Chang, an orchestra student and member of DECA heading up the project. “For me, it is a way to get my mind off things. I have six periods and one to play my music and forget about my problems.

“All the money from this, other than the money we get to keep for DECA, goes to fund music programs all over the state,” he added.

“It’s a kids helping kids concept,” said Kathy Fahlman Dewalt, the foundation’s director of marketing and business. “Having seen what DECA can do, three of my own children went through here, I knew they would have fresh ideas, and we wanted to give them the opportunity to use them and they did.”

To participate in the Snowman Foundation’s DECA program, students have to help promote awareness of the concert by making community presentations, selling tickets to it and attracting sponsors, underwriters and donors for the concert, Fahlman Dewalt said.

“Working with live people and other folks in the Snowman Foundation helps our students learn about work in the real world of entertaining and organizing events,” said Bob Payseno, the school’s DECA teacher. “They will also see the good that comes out of something like this, because it directly comes back to them.”

A portion of their tickets and all of the members’ CD sales go to the club, said Bryce Istvan, club president.

The second annual Ten Grands performance features 10 concert pianists paying 10 grand pianos simultaneously at Benaroya Hall in Seattle May 17.

Michael Allen Harrison, a Portland pianist, composer and the foundation’s founder, produces the musical arrangements for the concert, which includes classical, jazz, blues, gospel, pop, contemporary and new age genres. A special performance will include more than 200 local student choral performers.

Proceeds go toward scholarships and grants, and purchasing materials, supplies and instruments for music programs.

Locally, organizations like Village Theatre, Cougar Ridge Elementary School, Seattle Children’s Theatre, the 5th Avenue Theatre, the Bellevue Youth Symphony and the Washington Music Educators Association have benefited from foundation funds, Fahlman Dewalt said.

By tapping into their school’s music community, like the orchestra, choir and band, students help spread word of the benefit to parents, grandparents and teachers, Chang said.

“We really needed to use our selling skills, since the tickets are more pricey than what students can afford,” said Kiran Jassal, a junior and club member. “We needed to focus our efforts on parents and older people with more money and more interest in the event.”

Students in the districtwide audition orchestra, Evergreen Orchestra, also spread the word to other campuses, Chang said.

If the club generates the most promotion for the event, they earn 15 tickets and VIP passes to the benefit, where they can meet the artists.

If you go

Ten Grands

7 p.m. May 17

$40 – $120

Benaroya Hall

200 University St., Seattle, click on “Ten Grands Concert,” then enter the “grand” for a discount

Learn more at

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