By Larry Baisdon
Special to The PREVIEW
“Yeah, I played the clarinet in junior high and high school and I loved it. But, I haven’t played in 15 years (or 25 or 35) and I’ve probably forgotten everything.”
I’ve heard this countless times when I talk about the Pagosa Springs Community Band with someone.
I myself also went for many years with little or no playing, even though I was a high school band director. I was much more interested in how my students played, although I should have found time for practice for myself.
Then I retired and moved to Pagosa Springs and suddenly there were opportunities to play my trumpet. First at church, then in a musical and then a polka band was formed for Oktoberfest. At this point, I decided if I was going to play this much in public, I was going to have to start practicing. It took close to two years of regular practicing to reach the point that I wouldn’t embarrass myself … well, occasionally I still do.
Still, my story pales next to the story of my good friend Keith. I knew Keith from community choir, so we were acquainted. He approached me one day and said he played French horn years ago and he thought he might like to try it again. “Years ago” turned out to be almost 60 years ago. Now, the horn is easily the most difficult of all the brass instruments, so this was to be a major undertaking. Keith was able to borrow a horn from Dan Burch at the high school and has been taking private lessons and practicing for close to two years. As one of the directors of the Pagosa Springs Community Band, I watched him work and struggle and I can truthfully say that he is a credit to the instrument and to the band. We have nothing in the folder now that he can’t play.
The point being, of course, is that even after a long layoff, you can start playing your instrument in a band if you really want to and are willing to put in some effort. However, this is not about me or Keith specifically, but all the members of the Pagosa Springs Community Band who range from professional musicians and retired music teachers to folks who haven’t played in many years. Ages in our band range from musicians in junior high and high school to those who are somewhere north of 70. We are made up of woodwinds, brass, percussion and we even have some strings. Strings are cool, by the way, because John Philip Sousa had strings in his band.
The Pagosa Springs Community Band has been in existence for three years now, and holds three concerts each year: the upcoming Fall Concert, Band-O-Rama in the spring, and an outdoor concert on the Fourth of July. Rehearsals begin on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 21, at 2 p.m. at the high school band room. The first rehearsal will be over by the time this is published, but it’s not too late for you. We will rehearse every Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at the high school band room. The Fall Concert will be presented on Saturday, Nov. 15, in the high school auditorium.
It should be understood that we try to have fun at our rehearsals. Certainly, we also work hard to prepare the music, but our feeling is that if we are going to spend this much time rehearsing, it should be an enjoyable experience. There are no required numbers of rehearsals one must attend, but we hope all our members will be at every practice possible.
This year, we are proud to introduce Larry Elginer as our new co-director. Elginer is well known in the musical community in Pagosa Springs, and he will be sharing directing duties with me. Also, Malinda Fultz, music director at Pagosa Springs Middle School, will be returning to the podium as assistant director.
If you played in a band “many years ago” and you miss the experience, we have an empty chair just for you. You may surprise yourself as to how much you remember and how much fun you have playing again. Please come and join us. See you this Sunday, Sept. 28, at the high school band room at 2 p.m.