New Horizons, New Beginnings

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April 15, 2015

When free-lance musician Donna Morse attended a New Horizons Camp in Waterville Maine, the experience inspired her to start a band in the Monadnock region.

“It was a blast, like a Band Camp for adults of all ages.” she recalls. “There were rehearsals and master classes and bands of all genres to play in --concert, jazz, Klezmer, Irish… Then more music and drum circles.”

New Horizons Band Camp

The New Horizons International Music Association was founded in 1991 by Dr. Roy Ernst. His vision was to start a band program for beginning adult musicians nearing retirement age, as well as for adults who hadn’t picked up their instrument for years. His philosophy is guided by the principles that anyone can learn to play an instrument and perform in a group, and that music instruction should be fun. Today there are New Horizons Bands throughout the US and seven other countries- many for beginning adult musicians of all ages. The Monadnock New Horizons Band joins two other New Hampshire bands in Belmont and Portsmouth.

After speaking with Roy Ernst at Camp about how she could go about starting a band here, she shared the idea with fellow musicians, including members of the Nelson Town Band, which she directs, local music teachers and town band directors. She also contacted Vicki Moore, fellow Keene Jazz Orchestra member and music teacher at St Joseph Regional School. Vicki agreed to share directing duties.

Monadnock New Horizons Band directors

One of the unknowns when starting a new ensemble is how many people want to play the same instrument. I asked Donna what would she do if she had 15 members wanting to play drums? “I don’t know!” she said with a laugh.

Luckily that has not been an issue this first year. There is a good distribution of instruments and most members are willing to try a different one if needed. Many of the musicians rent from the Ellis Music Company, who allow members to switch instruments. Jonathan Dancing Musical Instrument Repair in Putney is ready for those with instruments long untouched.

New-Horizons Band Vicky conducting

The Monadnock New Horizons Band had a successful fall session and is getting ready for its Spring Concert on April 19. Come hear them play at 1:30 in the sanctuary of the United Church of Christ on Central Square in Keene. What a wonderful end to the Monadnock New Horizons Band’s debut year - a packed house of enthusiastic music goers to congratulate this new generation of musicians!

Originally published September 12, 2014