Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Generational music


I play in a community band and I haven’t talked about it in a long time. Probably not since we did the pop-up concert on the grassy circle of a cal-de-sac in September of 2020!

People who play live music suffered withdrawal during the covid pandemic. And when, in the fall of 2021, the community ed department said we could hold rehearsals at the school again we were happy even though we would have to wear a mask at all times, even when playing, and the bells of our instruments would need to be covered as well.

We sent out a survey to our members, asking who and what instruments felt they would be able to play with these restrictions, while knowing covid was a risk. About 50% of the band felt they wanted to play, and so we began, last fall, to plan our season.

Instrumentation was rough. We had, in the beginning, only one percussion player who lugs his personal drum set to and from rehearsals and another to play all the rest of the instruments back there. We had a handful of clarinets, some came most rehearsals, some came some rehearsals. Sometimes it was just one young man and me. We had no trumpets to speak of and only two trombones.

But as the weeks went by we began to fill in the vacant parts. Tenor sax players played the trumpet and cornet music. The tuba players wrote timpani parts into their own music. Everybody played all the cues written, to cover what would normally be played by someone else.

Individuals stepped up. People who never before played first parts gained confidence with practice. Often I’d say to the young man seated next to me in the second clarinet section, “It’s just you and me tonight, but we’ve got this.” and he’d give me a thumbs up and it turned out we did.

And a benefit of being short handed? You get to play really loud most all the time.

In the end band members and other people recruited musicians for us, and with only a couple rehearsals left before our concert we gained two trumpet players, both of whom play beautifully, a baritone player, and some high school students to fill in on clarinet and percussion parts. We even got a community band alumni, now a music major away at college, to come play timpani for us the night of the concert!

So, how did it go? Did this cobbled together group of retirees and working adults and busy students pull it all together in time? Well, we played fun music, music from old television shows like Gilligan’s Island and Perry Mason and MASH and Dragnet and Leave it to Beaver. We played music from the Beatles, and from movies like Chariots of Fire and The Way We Were and Gone with the Wind and Star Wars. We played bits of Send in the Clowns, Another Op’nin, Another Show, Let Me Entertain You, You Oughta Be in Pictures, Hooray for Hollywood and more. And of course we threw in a march or two, because what’s a community band without marches? We did Red Skelton’s Red’s White and Blue March. We ended with the original Overture to West Side Story, and for our encore we played The Stars and Stripes Forever, because, as our conductor told the audience, we needed to hear it.

Yes we pulled it together. And what a fun concert it was to play! Not easy, it’s never easy when you only rehearse once a week and the cast of musicians changes every time you meet. But fun because we were together.

And, in fact, that’s the real purpose behind a community band. Playing in our concert Tuesday night was a man in his 80s who hadn’t played in decades and who considered not preforming that night, worried that he’d make a mistake (he didn’t) and a freshman in high school who stepped in to help us and who got to play his very first concert solo, who did a beautiful job.

That’s the age spectrum, in a community band, people who love to play, from 15 to 80 something. Making mistakes and flubs and blats and ringing tones and harmonies beautiful enough to make your eyes water while you’re playing, a community band is a bunch of people pulling together, even when it’s hard, to make each other smile, and to make our audience smile too.

“That was so much fun to listen to!” I heard one woman say to her musician on our way back out to the car that evening. Yep. And if it was fun to listen to, just imagine how fun it was to play.

If there’s a community band in your town, make a point of attending their next concert. They’ll have a website, you can find out times and dates there. And if you play, but just haven’t in a long time, dust off that instrument and go see how it feels to be in the middle of something pretty amazing.

It’s been a long time since most of us felt amazing about anything. Go listen. Go play. It’s bound to make you smile.


Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

38 thoughts on “Generational music

  1. Such fun. Good for all of you for showing up. I would have loved to be at the concert.


  2. Dawn – the contrast with the 90 year old and the freshman’s first was beautiful
    quite a list of fun songs to cover – and smiling at this “You get to play really loud most all the time”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice to know that you got to play loudly most of the time. Made me smile with that idea. I don’t know if there’s a community band around here. If so, they don’t make a big racket about it. They’re probably playing pianissimo. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats to ALL of you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, Dawn! This was so much fun to read–I can imagine what it was like to hear! Yay for everyone to pulled together for this concert. What a community!


  6. Despite (because of) all the difficulties with having a good roster in rehearsals, sounds like it came off well and was a lot of fun!


  7. This sure made me smile. Bravo!


  8. Oh, I’m so happy for you! I bet it felt amazing. Love the song choices- FUN!

    I’ve seen a couple broadway shows over the past couple months, and the joy on the actors’ and orchestra’s faces at curtain call is the best part. They seem so happy to be able to perform again.


  9. Just reading about your concert made me smile. Thank you! 😊

    Such a nice variety of music – well done – bravo!! 👏


  10. You had a great time!! Too many people for us to attend any kind of concert. It would be fun! Sounds like you had a grand time!!


    • Yes, I can see where you’d need to be careful. We don’t get a lot of attendance though, maybe 100 people at most, so they were spread way out in the auditorium. Still…best to be safe!


  11. What FUN! This post made me smile. Connecting, community, and music! Making the world a whole lot better.


  12. How cool that you were able to pull this together! I imagine it was light and fun with such classics as Gilligan’s Island and MASH. We had access to a TV down in Georgia and watched a lot of old shows like that. Did you play the whistling Andy Griffith song?


  13. How wonderful and congratulations! Another smile on my face!


  14. It sounds like fun. I’m glad you got to play, Dawn. 🙂 My husband was in a community band in West Virginia for years and I always enjoyed going to hear them play.


  15. Dawn, I’m smiling through tears as I read this — you’ve expressed beautifully why we do community band. The camaraderie, the mixing of the generations, the special joy of bringing so much happiness to so many people. I whole-heartedly agree: it took a LOT of encouragement for me to decide to join our community band (I was afraid I’d mess up, that the young people wouldn’t want “mature” players sitting beside them, etc. But I was so wrong! What a joy all the acceptance was — and really, the best way to get better yourself is to play in an ensemble. Your band had an awesome program — congrats on not “Unraveling”!!!


    • I’m glad you’re playing in a band. It’s not all hearts and flowers, sometimes it’s not so good, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it to get to share something we love so much.


  16. Wow, thank you. Excellent post! As Debbie said “smiling through tears” as I read this. Ok ok, I’m going to log out here and go look for community bands. I don’t have my glockenspiel or my flute any more, but I can go listen and love them.


  17. Congratulations!!! Yay for bringing generations together and for feeding the souls of those listening. Happiness!!!!


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