City band experiences boom in its popularity

FAIRMONT – It was a pleasant surprise for longtime Fairmont City Band members Tuesday evening when 13 new members showed up wanting to play along.

“It’s the largest [increase] in my collective memory,” said Dianne Bittenbinder, an organizer of the band. “All the sections were full, which is great because you can get more dynamics with more players.”

The ironic part is that the band had eased up on recruiting.

“We had tried for years to get people to join, and we kind of changed that,” Bittenbinder said. “Instead of recruiting members, we began recruiting the audience. We’d had steady numbers; we’re just a group of people that likes to get together and play and have a good time.”

But the band is more than happy to have some fresh musicians.

“Some of them are home from college, some are in high school or just graduated,” Bittenbinder said. “We also have some older people, like one woman from Blue Earth who took trombone when she was in high school, but said, ‘I always wanted to play the flute.’ So she came over here and brought her flute.”

The band is conducted by Bev Tenney, who leads the Fairmont Elementary band.

“This is exciting for her because during the school year she’s dealing with beginning students, so it’s a thrill to her working with adults who know how to play,” Bittenbinder said.

Along with the boom in members, Bittenbinder noticed growth in the audience.

“All these new people also brought people to come and watch,” she said. “Especially with the younger people, the audience was larger.”

Even with a full band, there is always room for anyone else who wants to join.

“It’s not a seasonal commitment,” Bittenbinder said. “There are no auditions; they can play what they are comfortable playing.”

Concerts are each Tuesday in June, the Fourth of July and the final concert July 8. Practice times are from 6-7:30 p.m., with concerts from 8-9 p.m. All concerts are at the Sylvania Park bandshell.

“It’s boring when you’re just practicing by yourself,” Bittenbinder said. “It’s much more exciting to play in a group, and to have an occasion to put that practice to use.”