The Biggest Bands on Earth

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Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE


Through the years, numerous individuals have given their file collections to me. They’re often downsizing, shifting, or simply plain eliminating stuff — and I discover piles of previous stuff attention-grabbing.

Just lately, I lastly obtained round to listening to an uncommon file I obtained in a single such pile — a five-piece mini-LP recorded by the 1963-64 Fort Collins Excessive College Symphonic Band. Beneath the path of conductor Curtis Johnson, the file is an instance of simply how profitable college music packages will be.

My highschool marching band circa 1973

Neglect that description — “college music packages” — for a second. Once I listened to this file, that includes compositions by DeNardis, Bach, Nelson, Reed, and Seitz, I used to be struck by simply how profitable these MUSICIANS had been. The sounds they made prompted me to take heed to and luxuriate in what they have been doing. These weren’t simply college students, they have been artists.

What did I like about it? By way of the twists and turns within the music, the adjustments in dynamics, and the mixing of loads of instrumental voices, I believe this band actually knew the music. I might hear a real attachment to it. 

This takes extra than simply studying the way to play an instrument in class. It takes extra than simply taking part in the precise notes on the sheets of music. What it takes is a bunch imaginative and prescient of making one thing wonderful and the FCHS Symphonic Band of 1963-64 had it.

1963-64 FCHS Symphonic Band file launch

My first experiences with music within the colleges, again in my hometown in Illinois, weren’t fairly so profitable.

The day got here round when the start music lecturers first requested us to select an instrument — in addition to the “flute-o-phone”, that’s. I had simply watched Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on TV and wished to play the marimba. However the college had just one marimba they usually gave it to a different scholar.

Subsequent, I requested to play drums, however, as you may count on, lots of the different little boys (and women) in my college wished to play drums, so I didn’t make that record both.

Apparently sufficient, a few years later, after I was visiting my grandmother, the following door neighbor girl came over and it turned out the lady who obtained the marimba as a substitute of me was her granddaughter. She knowledgeable me that her granddaughter went on to be “state champ” along with her instrument.

I assume the varsity made the precise alternative.

It took a transfer to Phoenix, Arizona to get me again into music at college. Sooner or later, I discovered myself going to high school with a trombone in hand and was positioned to start with band. From then on, I performed within the bands in all the colleges I attended.

In elementary college in Phoenix, I performed within the “B” and “A” bands and obtained my first style of acting on a stage. In highschool in California, I joined the marching band, which was additionally a live performance band within the spring season. This was additionally the case after I completed up highschool in Washington State.

These experiences have been simply nice. It was an additional social scene for us, we obtained out of PE, we obtained to journey, and we obtained to play music collectively. There was a particular bond amongst band members that made it thrilling — and typically the music actually rocked.

As soon as I graduated from highschool, although, I put down the trombone and sort of obtained misplaced in guitars and rock and roll

My curiosity in class music packages was revived when my daughter was going to Lincoln Junior Excessive right here in Fort Collins. She was within the starter band and I attended one among their packages.

I used to be shocked once they efficiently performed Holst’s composition, “Mars”. I used to be impressed sufficient to write down to the band director to congratulate him and the band on making an attempt such a dynamic piece. To my daughter’s chagrin, the director learn the letter out loud to the band.

Additionally, I simply liked listening to and seeing the CSU Ram Band carry out at greater than a decade of soccer video games, underscoring that faculty music packages don’t simply finish with highschool. Over and over, I watched the Ram Band stoke up the individuals within the stands after which absolutely take over the sector at halftime for big-time leisure.

CSU Ram Band helps debut the brand new stadium 2017 (Photograph by Tim Van Schmidt)

One of many grandest days of all was Band Day, when CSU hosted highschool bands from across the area in a single large gathering. On one event, I watched as your entire soccer discipline full of bands, and I puzzled if I is perhaps seeing the largest band on the planet at that second — I estimated there have been some 500 musicians on the sector taking part in collectively.

Right here’s the factor — they’re all large bands; really, the largest bands on earth when it comes to actually giving children the chance to take pleasure in success with music.

After all, immediately’s music packages have a lot extra to supply. At FCHS immediately, for instance, the music program boasts orchestras, bands, and choirs. However extra, in addition they provide programs in “unified music, music expertise, AP and starting music concept, starting and superior guitar and piano, and historical past of rock and pop”. Improbable!

Discovering that FCHS file from so way back was such a strong reminder of an necessary a part of my life. It additionally sounded nice.

It was a recording that was reaching out to me over a span of 59 years with a message: assist college music packages.

Tim Van Schmidt is a author and photographer based mostly in Fort Collins. Take a look at his YouTube channel at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt”.


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