It is never too late could be the motto for many of the members of the New Horizons Band which plays every week at the Roeland Park Community Center. And, if you are old enough, there is a place waiting for you in the band – even if you have never played an instrument before.
The band’s average age is someplace in the mid 60s, but it has members well into their 80s. Most of the band’s members have some major gaps in their musical careers – like 40 years without picking up an instrument. Many played in the band in high school or college and then didn’t pick it up again until joining New Horizons.
New Horizons even accepts beginners who get introductory lessons and then get folded into the band as they are ready. “This is a really safe musical environment,” says Lindsey Williams, the band’s conductor and UMKC music professor. His father also is one of the band members.
The decades they might have taken off from playing aren’t such a big obstacle to getting back into music, one band member said. Now tri-focals and hearing aids are challenges, but not insurmountable.
Most of the band members live in northeast Johnson County and the love of music draws them to the weekly rehearsals. “They take it seriously and it shows,” Williams says. Sprinkled into the mix are a few UMKC students in music education. They have to play a secondary instrument (not the one on which they are most accomplished) which helps prepare them for their future teaching roles.
The band started more than nine years ago with about 17 members and now has 48 who come to the two-hour sessions every Tuesday evening. It’s not just the weekly sessions at the community center, though. The band gives concerts. The next appearance is at Bishop Miege at 7 p.m. next Tuesday. The band also will play at Johnson County Community College on Dec. 3 and at Union Station Dec. 8.
A new 17-week band session starts in January, but even beginners can get started at anytime. The New Horizons Band is a program of the 50 Plus Department of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District in conjunction with UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance and Meyer Music.
“You are looking at a room full of life-long learners,” Williams says of the band.