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Williamsport alumni band seeks players

September 21, 1997

By JENNYLYNN BROWN

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT - Question: When do two pieces of paper with notes all over them bring people together?

Answer: When the people are alumni of the Williamsport High School Blue Band and homecoming is right around the corner.

The Williamsport High School Alumni Band will practice Friday for its performance in the Homecoming Parade on Saturday.

Organizer Rodney W. Nave is counting on a full bandwagon.

"We're looking for people who play, anyone who comprised the band front color guards, majorettes - anyone involved in the Big Blue band in any capacity," Nave said. "This year, we're trying to form a color guard. We've never had a color guard."

Nave, 52, played the saxophone from 1959 to 1963 and was a drum major as a Williamsport High School senior.

"You can't go back and play football or baseball, but you can go back and play in the band. It's for people who lost an enjoyment through graduation," he explained.

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Players of flutes, clarinets, piccolos, trumpets, drums, trombones, horns and tubas will rehearse the standard march, "Proud Heritage," at the Williamsport High School Blue Band Room at 7 p.m. Friday.

"The goal of the practice is knocking the rust off and sharpening up," Nave said.

Washington County Board of Education Music Resource Specialist Susie Kunkle has directed the alumni band in the past.

"Usually, they're amazed they can still play their instruments, but it's kind of like riding a bike. And when the skills come back, the memories come back," said Kunkle, 53, who also directed the Blue Band for 13 years.

Instruments and music can usually be provided for those without - all that's required is the desire to play and making it to the practice, Nave said.

"If you think back in high school, there's some things you lost. We're trying to get it back," said Nave, who lives on Harry Heth Road.

The Alumni Band formed about eight years ago with more than 100 members, Nave said. Band member ages range from 19 to around 60.

"It was reorganized last year and won first prize in the Mummers Parade with 50 members. We came back pretty strong," Nave said. "Marching over the hill in the Mummers Parade ... for an hour or so, it was like someone took a pencil out and erased 33 years of my life," he said.

Percussion coordinator Danny Fraker said the band fits into the spirit of homecoming by bringing people in the town, community and schools together.

"You have to be a Williamsport alumni to really understand that there is a lot of pride in the heritage of the band," said Fraker, 39, of Artisan Street.

Fraker, who graduated in 1976, credits the alumni band for his music ministry at Tri-State Fellowship in Hagerstown. "I didn't play for 12 years. The alumni band got me picking the sticks back up again."

Although the alumni band is exclusively for alumni, Nave is also recruiting all musicians for a Williamsport Town Band.

For more information on either band, call 301-223-4148.

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