Music in Community – Paul Herrera

By Brendan Lai-Tong

Hi Sheet Music Plus Fans, welcome back to our Music in Community Series. As many of you already know, budgets for school music programs are very tight. As a result, music directors need to find creative ways to raise funds to provide their students with the musical education that they deserve.

When I was in band, the band parents organized several fundraising opportunities in order to raise the funding necessary to support the program. Bake sales, holiday gift wrapping drives, candy and even cheesecake sales were part of our regular yearly schedules. If there was an opportunity to raise funds, our band was on top of it.

If you didn’t already know, Sheet Music Plus has a great way for organizations to raise funds called Fundraising Plus. Organizations will receive a personalized URL to share that directs to our homepage. Any purchases that are made after clicking through this link will accrue 8% cash back. This is a great way to quickly raise funds for your educational endeavors. Find out more here.

Paul Herrera
Paul Herrera

Today, we’re featuring Paul Herrera, director of music at the American Union Elementary School and assistant band/choir director at Washington Union School in Fresno, CA. His method of fundraising takes a fresh and different approach. Please enjoy Paul’s story below, we hope you’re inspired by his take on fundraising:

Sharing Music With My Community

When you become an educator, life tends to get busy. I struggle to find time to play my trumpet and keep my chops up. It was for this reason I started ordering brass quintet music: to keep me playing with my peers from college and to reaffirm my love for playing for the fun of it. Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of the school year always seems to limit our practice and performance times throughout the school year.

The students I work with come from some of the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds in California. I have raised thousands of dollars in donations from but I haven’t been able to raise any money throughout the school year. It seems just about every sport, class, and club on campus has already taken all of the obvious fundraisers out there. You name it; someone already has a claim to it. This has leaded me to think outside the box for fundraising ideas: I have to be unique. I have a lot of new programs I would like to offer, but no budget to get them started. The question became: what else is there?

It hit me a few months ago: why not earn money for local schools while I play my instrument with other educators that I met from college? I keep my chops up, and raise money for my school and other schools like it in the area! (To me the idea is pure genius). The only thing is…where would we play? Let’s establish some ground rules:

1. The place would have to have lots of people.

2. The place would have to at least be covered: it gets hot in Fresno, CA during the summer and cold and rainy in the fall.

3. The place would have to be willing to let us do this on a monthly basis.

So here it is: why not try local malls, shopping centers, sport functions, and school functions? We could have a rehearsal and from that point on: practice while performing. Since the inception in 2011, I’m proud to say that our group “Five Brass Instrumentalists” (FBI) has been buying all types of music for just about any occasion from Sheet Music Plus. We have performed for a local Kiwanis meeting, an arts fundraiser, and for my elementary school’s carnival.

Last year was a trial and error year: this will be the year to go all out! I’m thinking of having FBI accompany my choirs at our Winter Program, at a Fresno Grizzlies Baseball game, and playing at local venues to raise awareness of the importance of music education in our schools. I love teaching music. I love playing music. And I love being an advocate of music education. Performing and raising money for the benefit of my community is a reward in and of itself.

Paul Herrera is the Director of Music at American Union Elementary School and an Assistant Band and Choir Director at Washington Union High School in Fresno, CA. He holds a Bachelors of Arts in Music Education from California State University, Fresno and is the creator of “Five Brass Instrumentalists.”

Music directors, what methods have you used to successfully raise funds for your program?  Feel free to send an email to and we will be sure to feature your creative fundraising efforts in an upcoming blog. If we select your entry, we will also send you an email gift certificate worth $75 at Sheet Music Plus.

Brendan Lai-Tong is the Assistant Marketing Manager at Sheet Music Plus and holds degrees in trombone performance from University of Miami and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

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