Arts Talk

Always music

Community Band a lifelong opportunity

By Bonnie Blackburn
For those who spent their high school years sitting on a chair behind a music stand or marching around a football field, instrument in hand, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to continue that talent after graduation.

Sure, they can go on and play in college, even major in a music-related field, but most don’t. Most put their flutes or trumpets carefully back into their cases and slide them in the back of a closet. Or maybe that’s just me.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. The Fort Wayne Area Community Band has a home for you. Scott Humphries (piano and saxophone) is finishing his first full year as the band’s conductor, and Dave Blackwell (clarinet) has been associate director with the band for the past 20 years. Sue Jehl, a charter member and associate conductor, also keeps the band running smoothly.

“I’m a big believer in community music,” Humphries said.

Both Humphries and Blackwell have spent their professional careers conducting high school (and in Humphries’ case, college) bands. Blackwell is retired from leading the Wawasee high school and middle school bands, and Humphries has been director of Instrumental Studies and Music Education at Manchester College for the past four years.

The Fort Wayne Area Community Band plays concerts throughout the year. The one not to be missed is the July 10 at the Foellinger Theatre, “An Evening With John Philip Sousa.”

The band formed in November 1979, with 35 players who responded to an ad in The News-Sentinel. It’s now a company in residence at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, which is where the group got its start. Indeed, until Humphries was hired, the band’s director was always a professor at IPFW.

The band has swelled to 80 members and plays everything from Sousa marches to contemporary pieces.

“It’s quite a good group of adults,” Blackwell said. “They are people who can really play well.”

One rule of admission is that members must have played in a high school or
college band.

“The tradition is that people just want to play. They want to get together and play good music. We call it ‘musicing.’ It’s lifelong music. I really enjoy that aspect of it,” Humphries said.

He said he always encouraged his students to keep playing after their high school or college music careers ended. He said he wanted students to build upon what they’d worked so hard for as they practiced as young musicians.

“My deal was ‘just keep playing,’” he said. “Now I have kids playing all over the country.”

By giving musicians who have “regular” jobs, families and other interests an outlet to continue to build on their musical talents, it helps keep their music alive, the men said.

Posted: Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:52 pm
Last updated: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:48 pm