Serving the community since 1867
109 W. Fourth St. - P.O. Box 311 - Holton, Kansas 66436 - 785-364-3141
When thinking of summer, images of the Fourth of July, picnics, baseball and days at lake may come to mind. Why not think of the sounds of summer as well and no, not the Beach Boys.
Another staple in the summertime for many cities and towns across America are the performances of community bands at some of those summer gatherings. In Kansas alone, towns like Iola, Winfield and Salina have multiple performances from community bands throughout the summer, but is it something that could get going in Holton?
There has been no community band in the Holton are going back to 1960, but multiple band directors in Jackson County noted that there is interest in such a group.
Holton High School band director Sheri Bartel noted that she has had parents come up to here showing interest in playing with the high school band, something she planned to do this year but could not fit into the performance schedule.
Jackson Heights band director Laura Holliday also noted that she has had several parents and community members express interest in playing in a community band, but she said issues have risen in the past in trying to find a band leader.
“I think it would be fabulous for the Holton community to have something like that,” Holliday said, “and I honestly do believe that there are people who could do the directing and maybe it would have to be something like taking turns as a committee in charge and people rotating.”
Along with Holliday, Royal Valley band director John Nottingham shared that sentiment. Nottingham has worked with the Atchison community band in the past and he said that group has a set-up just like that and he would be willing to help direct in a platoon-style system.
Holliday and Nottingham also noted they would like to see both the adult and youth community represented in such a venture and both said they would spread the word to students and parents alike, maybe even more.
“I think it would be a benefit to current band students as well as alumni and I would like to see a multi-generational band where retired folks, senior citizens and everybody gets the opportunity to play,” Holliday said.
As far as numbers, Holliday used her own bands as a sample-size for what might be needed for a community band. The Jackson Heights High School band is a 33-piece ensemble. That matched up with the numbers Nottingham suggested as well, as he said a community band could be started with a core group of 25-30 musicians. In terms of reference, Salina (pop. approximately 48,000) has a municipal band with a suggested instrumentation featuring 55 members.
All of the current Jackson County school band directors noted that the managerial parts tied to a community band might be a hurdle, as far as getting music for an ensemble and the proper instruments, but the directors did suggest solutions. Nottingham noted he would be willing to help provide music, while Bartel and Holliday both suggested members interested in playing would potentially have their own instrument.
Some of the band directors showed an interest in playing along with retired HHS band director Don McDaniel, who is very much behind the idea of a community band.
“I think it’d be good culturally for the area and it’d be a good thing to get together with other musicians and have fun playing some good old-fashioned music,” McDaniel said. “I just think it’d be good overall for everybody, socially, musically and culturally.”
Possible performance music that was brought up as an example by some of the directors included, marches, medleys, pieces from musicals and pop music. “What” isn’t the big question, though, as opposed to when and where the band would play.
There was a semi-consensus about playing on the courthouse lawn at the bandstand, but when the band would play ranged from once a week through the summer months to two or three times to one time in the initial summer. The idea of a community band, one pulling musicians from all over Jackson County, was very much seen as a positive by all the band directors. though.
Besides the benefits it could provide for students and the local band programs, it was also looked at as a positive for the community as a whole. Holliday noted the Artwalk helping foster the arts in the community, with a band serving a similar purpose, while Bartel said it would foster more pride in an already strong community.
“That’s one thing that drove me to Holton was the pride in the school and the amount of people who went out of their way to just build that community and that sense of family,” Bartel said. “I think any community struggles with that in some way and I think that’s just one way, musically, we can build it.”
The Holton Recorder is working to help in the community band foundation process, so if you are interested in playing, directing or providing any services to the start-up of a community band in the area, please contact David Powls at (785) 364-3141 or send an e-mail to email@example.com. So far, 12 people have expressed interest.