The Third Oldest Band in the Nation

BandsFestivalST. JOHNSBURY- The Festival of the Bands is a yearly event that has been happening for over 30 years, where multiple bands from around Vermont gather to perform a concert.  One of the bands at the festival was the St. Johnsbury Band, which is the third oldest band in the nation that still exists.

 The St. Johnsbury Band was one of four that performed at the Festival Wednesday night, and while they have some seasoned performers on their staff, it is a new and exciting experience for some of the younger band members who were able to perform. 

Kaci Cochran, a middle school student from Lyndon Town School, told us “I really enjoy drumming and percussion, it’s one of my favorite things to do in my free time and I just really like being a part of the band.  It’s a little bit different, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Dave Hare, manager of the band, sees first hand the value of schools participating with the band, stating "I think it demonstrates that effort put into learning to play an instrument can pay dividends for a lifetime."

The St. Johnsbury Band has been around since 1830.  Part of their funding comes from the town of St. Johnsbury, and the rest comes from paid concerts.  On the band's webpage, their mission is the following:

    “Promote social welfare and civic betterment by providing music for parades and concerts and other events in St. Johnsbury and surrounding communities.
    Provide musical educational opportunities for members and residents of St. Johnsbury and surrounding communities.
    Present music as a cultural activity to the residents of St. Johnsbury and surrounding communities.
    Provide a musical organization in which musicians of all ages and abilities may participate.”

The members continue to utilize their mission statement in their specific band roles.  Debi Smith is a five year member of the band, as well as second trumpet, first chair, and assitant manager.  "I help make decisions of expenses of the band, when concerts will be, or what kind of songs will be played at the next rehearsal or concert." 

Being a member means more than having a job to do; it also means being a part of an intimate group of people, a family.  "I love the members of the band; there are a lot of different personalities," Smith said.  "An important aspect to me are the varying ages of the band members.  The ages range from 12 to 88.  That right there is what I feel is part of the magic of music; the young and old joining together in harmony.  That is something I am truly lucky for." 

Hare adds "There is something about being part of a concert band and performing music.  It takes the combined effort of each musician and the conductor, and when the end product is good, it is a lot of fun."

The Band rehearses every Monday evening in the community room of the Caledonia Courthouse from seven to nine at night.  Their next scheduled event is the Memorial Day Concert on Monday, May 25. 

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