Banding together

The Moorestown Community Band is busy preparing for their Nov. 2 performance at the Wiley Church in Marlton.

Moorestown Community Band Director Bruce Smith conducts his musicians during a rehearsal in the band room of William Allen Middle School.

For nearly 30 years, the Moorestown Community Band has provided musical entertainment for audiences and a community for like-minded musicians of all ages to engage in their favorite pastime. One of the few of its kind in the area, the band draws members from all over the county and beyond.

On Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m., the Moorestown Community Band will be holding a performance at the Wiley Church, 101 East Main St. in Marlton. No ticket is required to attend, however audience members are encouraged to make a free-will offering.

According to band director Bruce Smith, attendees can expect a mix of styles that should include a little of something for everyone: a little Broadway, the classics, light rock, a novelty tune and some patriotic numbers like “American Flourish” by Robert W. Smith.

“Something we get a lot of compliments on is the variety of music that we play. We don’t limit ourselves to one type,” said Smith.

The director likes to inject an element of fun into live performances of the community band. He recalls one particular performance of the “1812 Overture,” a piece that famously incorporates the booming sounds of cannon fire, where he came up with a clever way to get the audience involved. Before the concert he picked out several members of the audience, equipped them with brown paper lunch bags and instructed them to inflate and pop them on cue to simulate exploding cannons.

“They thought it was a riot, we were all laughing. We try to make music fun,” said Smith.

The band formed in 1991 under the direction of Bob McCoy with only 12 members. Since then, it has grown considerably, consisting of around 60 players representing a wide range of ages and musical backgrounds. Some players are fresh out of school, looking to continue playing in a band setting, and some are retirees, looking to dust off their old instruments.

Susan Staaf, a horn player from Cinnaminson, is a recent addition to the band, coming on board just a month ago. She was seeking out a community of musicians to play with who could help her grow and learn more about her instrument.

“It’s a chance to play with like-minded people,” said Staaf. “I like playing with the people with music degrees, it kind of helps stretch you, but no one in the community band thinks they are better than you.” 

She likes the relaxed, low-stress atmosphere the band affords its musicians. She says it’s all for fun.

“Everybody’s there to have fun and enjoy playing, that’s what I like about it,” said Staaf.

Don Haney, of Moorestown, plays saxophone in the band and acts as an assistant director. A middle school band director by profession, the community band offers him a chance to work side-by-side with adults in his off time.

“It’s a totally different atmosphere. I’m trying to get the best of both worlds,” said Haney. 

If you would like to learn more about the band, search Moorestown Community Band on Facebook. If you are a local musician looking for like-minded players, the band is always looking for new members. Email the director at trombruce@comcast.net for details.