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Wrapping up the first rehearsal of the new Fredericksburg Community Band, about 20 current and former high school students (under the direction of Fredericksburg High School Assistant Band Director Dani Rauschuber) are pulling out their horns and reliving their days as “bandies.” Photo by Phil Houseal


Details:
Anyone community member interested in performing with the community band can contact Sandy McBride, 830-456-9590, sandy.mcbride3@gmail.com. Currently the group rehearses on Monday evenings at the FHS Band Hall.

 



webmaster: phil@fullhouseproductions.net

Calling all “bandies”

by Phil Houseal
Nov 23, 2011

 

Cutting across the Fredericksburg High School campus on the way to a basketball game one evening last week, I heard music coming from the band hall. Not unusual for a school night. But when I glanced in the window, something seemed out of place. Specifically, there were several “non high school-aged” musicians.

What is going on, I demanded as I walked in on the end of their rehearsal?

“This is our new community band,” declared Dani Rauschuber, Assistant Band Director at FHS.

About 20 players were packing up their horns, equally divided between high school students and folks who hadn’t been inside a marching band uniform for 30 years. But they were all on the same page, musically.

When Rauschuber (who happens to be the wife of FHS Band Director John Rauschuber) was hired, one of her duties was to develop the alumni band. It has developed a bit beyond her expectations.

The idea for a full-blown community band grew out of preparations for the alumni band that played at one of the football games.

“A couple of the alumni asked, can we invite anybody to this?” said Rauschuber. “I said, sure. We didn’t have enough alumni, so we opened it up to everybody in the community.”

There has been a surprising and satisfying amount of interest. Rauschuber expects the band to grow to around 30 members. It is open to players of any age, and you don’t have to be alumni of the school or the band. The only condition is that players are “proficient” on their instrument, and even that requirement is open to interpretation.

“We have people who have been playing two to three hours a day, and some who haven’t picked up a horn in 30 years,” she said.

One of those “gappers” is Carlton Ottmers, who plays tuba.

“I stopped playing 30 years ago, mainly because I had to turn in the tuba,” said Ottmers, who also played in college. “But the alumni band last year got me going again.”

His son, Cade, is a sophomore who pounds out percussion. “It’s fun,” he said of performing alongside folks from his father’s generation. “I enjoy playing in band, and some of them are as good or better than our high school band mates.”

Darrell Moellering, Class of 1980ish, was a drummer at FHS. How long has it been since he beat out a cadence? “Too long,” he quickly replied, adding, “Although I have been cheating and practicing.”

High school junior and flute player Sarah Koennecke is also here with her parents. Ralph Koennecke picked up the baritone after a 28-year layoff, and mom Dawn became a reluctant sleigh bell layer.

So what is it like playing with your parents?

“It’s weird,” admitted Sarah, whose brother also plays in college. “But our family is very ‘bandie.’”

Rauschuber noted that the new Community Band will perform “all recognizable tunes” at a challenge level from junior high to high school. The band already has three engagements for the holiday season. They will perform during the Christmas parade on December 2, at the St. Nicholas Market downtown on December 3, and for their inaugural indoor concert at the high school auditorium on Monday, December 12.

There is no fee to join, and the school will lend instruments to those who may have pawned their own. There are no uniforms for now, other than a T-shirt.

“Just show up,” the band director said. “We are open to anyone who wants to come in and play!”