Could a Community Band Fill the Hole in Your Soul?
How many of you played in your high school or college bands and then put the instrument away, or worse yet, sold it or gave it away along with your interest in performing band music? Life gets in the way doesn’t it? Many of us, however, find after a while that abandoning our instrument leaves a hole in our souls. We find ourselves in our 50’s or 60’s or even older and we haven’t picked up our horns in 30 years. What do we do now?
There is a unique group of musicians in many towns that get together and play band music just for the love of it. This group is known as the town band or the city band. A more apt description is the “community” band for this group invites and embraces musicians from the community at large.
The Eagles Band of Pittsfield, MA is one such band. The Eagles Band is the oldest, continually operating community band in the Berkshires. It was formed in 1936 and is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year (2016). The band has undergone many changes over the years growing from a military style marching band to the concert band it is today. The Eagles was once a union band and, as a result, had a limited membership. As years passed, it became more and more difficult to find union players and in the early 1990’s, the Eagles Band nearly succumbed due to a very small membership. (The band numbered only 13 players at that time.)
A long-standing core of Eagles musicians decided to expand the membership to non-union players and to lean toward becoming a concert band rather than primarily a marching unit. Their foresight saved the organization by drawing more musicians from the community. Gradually the band increased its membership and attracted the type of instrumentation required for concert music.
Today the Eagles Band averages 55-65 active members playing year round throughout the Berkshires. Members come from all walks of life…students, teachers, music educators, doctors, lawyers, postal workers, IT specialists, corporate employees, management, non-management, self-employed, architects, construction workers, firemen, policemen, professional musicians and more. Members range from 12 years old to over 90…and it works!!
So, if you played a band instrument a long time ago and have a hole in your soul, think about dusting off that horn and joining a community band. The Eagles Band is always looking for new members. Think about sitting in on a rehearsal. (We rehearse every Monday night from 7-9pm at the First United Methodist Church at 55 Fenn St. in Pittsfield, MA.) This is a team where you are never too old to belong.