Searching for a Good Community Band
I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water. ~ Ray Charles
When I was returning to music after a 30-year hiatus, I used the Community Band and Orchestra Contact list to identify the many, many community bands in the Seattle and surrounding area.
Most of the community bands at the time had either no Web presence, or a limited Web page that basically gave you a phone number or e-mail to contact. I had no idea what the bands played and who they wanted to attract, let alone the audition requirements, if any.
So I picked the Woodinville band and jazz ensemble because it also had a jazz band. At the time it was directed by a phenomenal sax performer and former high school band director, Ray Guyll. When I called the membership phone number, Terri answered.
Me: Hi, I’m thinking about joining a community band.
Terri: That’s great, what instrument do you play?
Me: Sax. How do I audition?
Terri: Do you own an instrument?
Terri: Just show up for practice.
That year we did a very jazzy season finale concert with Greta Matassa and her combo, Eric Kloss saxophonist extraordinaire, and both the concert band and jazz ensemble at the Kirkland Performance Center. I purchased tickets for my extended family and friends. The concert was the best concert band concert I have ever been in yet and I even had a short solo in the beginning of ‘Blue Ridge Autumn’.
Here is an excellent sample of what this band has grown up to be under the direction of our current director, Leah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKUHUxo7ZhM
Since I joined this band, I have made it a point to hear and/or sit in with a lot of the other local community bands. I have yet to find one that I enjoy as much as the WCB. The Woodinville Community Band has musicians from Jr. High age to players in their 80s. There are all levels of accomplishment, but most sections have a music major or two to hold the section down and teach the newbies.
Selecting a community band and making the decision whether to return to music performance is fraught with lots of decisions to make. Do I take lessons to get back in shape? Can I devote the time necessary to do a good job? Would I be a valuable asset to the band? Whatever you do, consider supporting your local band with attendance and donations. They will really appreciate it.
I did a college project on community music, through the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Music Department. Posted a video on Youtube. You also might want to check out “The Hidden Musicians,” about community music in England (seminal work). Mike
Hi – If you’re ever in Wichita, Kansas, come to Senseney Music and check out our community band! We’ve been going for 30 years + (I’m a charter member) and we have two seasons – Christmas and then a summer season. You can check it all out at www.senseneymusic.com I also played in the Emporia (Kansas) Municipal Band as a kid – learned to transpose early because the music was all so old that the piccolo parts were all written for Db piccolo – LOL!