By TIFFANY RONEY
Car horns and handclaps served equally well as applause for classic American tunes like the “Star Spangled Banner,” “’A’ – You’re Adorable” and “The Longest Day.”
The Abilene Municipal Band concert, which commemorated D-Day, took place Thursday night at the Royer Band Shell in Eisenhower Park.
Vanessa Eisermann, Junction City, said she appreciated the patriotic songs. Her mother, Sharri Rushing, Junction City, said she loved the way the concert ended with the song, “God Bless America.” Guest Conductor Marc Riegel encouraged audience members to sing along, and several attendees stood to honor the song’s meaning.
Samantha Reiff, sophomore at Abilene High School and clarinetist in the city band, said it was challenging to learn the songs because city band members do not see the sheet music until the day before they play. They practice for two hours the day before they play, and then they play for an hour at each weekly performance.
Riegel said he tries to bring in as many students as possible because the quick learning time dramatically improves musicians’ sight-reading ability.
“You kind of freak out, but you get over that,” Riegel said. “Most of the literature, they’ve played, and the stuff that they haven’t, you just kind of get used to going and become a great musician by doing that.”
In addition to encountering the challenge of learning songs the day before performing them, Reiff took on the challenge of learning a new instrument. She started playing the trumpet in 6th grade and recently added on the clarinet. She said it is a switch to learn to play on a reed instead of a mouthpiece.
Reiff said these kinds of challenges are her favorite part about participating in city band.
“Every piece of music, there’s a musical challenge, whether it’s notes or rhythms,” Reiff said. “It’s all fun. A lot of hard, but it was still a lot of American spirit, and I like that.”
Riegel also cited the challenges of city band as some of the reasons why he keeps coming back year after year.
“I think just playing with the great musicians; I mean, there’s such a history – some of the guys in here have played for 60, 70 years,” Riegel said. “I always liked being challenged by standing in front of them and giving them something new. So, the musicianship is what I really enjoy the most.”
Riegel said other hurdles for him include the time-consuming task of selecting songs for each performance and the fast-paced challenge of sight-reading the scores so he can correctly conduct the band.
Along with the band members and Riegel, the other part of the performance was the spontaneous march of several children and a pet dog from the audience. Riegel invited children to come to the front, receive American flags from a box on the stage and march them through the audience.
“We started that a number of years ago, and it was just a way to get kids involved,” Riegel said. “Families know that when they come, they’ll have something for the kids to do. It’s always cute to see kids carrying flags.”
Shelley Carroll, flutist in the band, said the children’s march is one of her favorite parts of city band.
She not only enjoys watching the children but also watching the audience members’ reactions.
“What’s really cool is when you see the senior citizens during the march – their eyes, their faces,” Carroll said. “They’re just tickled to see those little ones. I’ve done it three or four times, but the first time I did it, that’s what stuck out to me. The senior citizens love watching the little kids.”