Stop. Listen. Is your radio or TV on? I’ll bet you hear music, even if it’s in the background. Music permeates our lives, sometimes creating suspense but usually providing fun.
In the mid ’80s we formed a brass quintet in Jackson and played for various community events. Some of us said, “It sure would be nice to have a band.” So, we started the Jackson Hole Community Band, now nearly 3 decades ago.
“Community Band” has at least 2 connotations. It’s a concert band that is comprised of members of the Jackson Hole Community (extending into Teton Valley, Star Valley, and Pinedale/Big Piney). It’s also a band for the community, playing for many occasions in the community: holiday parades, town square lightings, ground-breaking and dedicatory ceremonies for schools and hospital expansion, concerts in public schools, combined concerts with high school and adult vocal groups, and every Old Bill’s Fun Run’s annual “party” in Jackson. Spin-off groups from the band provide TubaChristmas and special music presentations in local churches, as well as concerts of their own. The results are usually measured in smiles and happiness. Yes, music is fun – to hear and to play. Since the beginning, having fun – and providing enjoyment for our many and varied audiences – have been hallmarks of our Jackson Hole Community Band – in all aspects.
Our children are so busy. I know. I am the mother of 2 busy kids. In our community, in Jackson, WY, they seem to have so many great opportunities; karate, swimming, running, biking, skiing, hockey, baseball, cross country, art, music, theater, dance, and the list goes on-and-on. How can these kids find the time to do it all, and still be kids? And how as parents to we help our kids make good choices and pick activities that are fun, engaging, and also help them with a life-long activity they will love?
For me, music has been a constant in my life from the time I was in 3rd grade, carrying that heavy cello up and down my street to orchestra practice. This was back in the 70s, and 2 emergency hernia surgeries later, I picked up the lighter weight – could fit in my backpack – flute and never looked back. And what a gift it has been to me!
From playing with the Jackson Hole Community Band, I have had the amazing opportunity to become friends with people from all walks of life, all different ages, all different values and beliefs and socio-economic backgrounds. Through band, I have been lucky to have the most supportive people around me. I remember when my son was born and was life-flighted to Salt Lake City in 2005 with a double pneumothorax. My band friends were there to provide support and help during such a difficult time.
Several years ago, we lost a dear band member and fellow flautist, Norma Foster Price to lung cancer. Moments with the ‘band ladies’, 4 of us that weekly went to her house as she fought valiantly and eventually lost her fight to cancer, where we laughed and commiserated about music and the latest goofiness of rehearsal, was a bright light during dark days.
I suggest that we all try to bring the gift of music to the next generation. If you are thinking about what activity to choose next for your busy child, or they need a new outlet for their creative energy, get them playing an instrument. And, when they are ready, encourage them to join the band and come to rehearsals at the Center for the Arts Thursday nights 7-9PM. We are fun, goofy, crazy, old, young, but most importantly supportive, and loving. Let’s bring our kids together for the opportunity of life-long learning through music. I, Holly Balogh, and my kids will see you and yours there!
I joined the Community Band in 2012, when I was in eighth grade. Most of what I remember about those first rehearsals, sitting between tubist Ron and euphonium Don and getting their names mixed up, was how I got lost reading most of the music and how my mother, a French horn player, thought rehearsals ended too late at night for a thirteen-year-old. Nevertheless, I persisted through the challenging music and intimidating (from my view) roomful of strangers.
Over time, I was able to keep up more often than I fell behind. JHCB pushed me to improve my skills on the trombone, and to always strive to hit that high note, and the next, until before you know it, you have the range of a semi-professional player! Practicing and performing alongside community musicians for the last five years has made me the musician I am today, from technical skills to music theory.
A roomful of strangers became a roomful of friends of all ages. Beyond volunteerism, being part of the band has shown me the enormous value of being part of a tight-knit community of people who love music as much as I do. More than a place to be on Thursday nights, I am truly grateful for the real community the band represents. I intend to play with my family and friends in the community band for years to come.