The Oxford Community Band turns 35

This year, the Oxford Community Band celebrates its 35th anniversary. The community band can be spotted playing at Uptown events, at Oxford Senior Center and Talawanda High School.

The band, formed in 1987, was started by Ted Beerman, who ran a local music store in Oxford. Beerman started the community group for adults who enjoy playing instruments. The group rehearses every Tuesday at Talawanda Middle School from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

The community group attracts a wide range of ages, with a 23-year-old as the youngest current member and an 83-year-old as the oldest. Sometimes the community group even had members in high school.

The band’s oldest member, Fred Schuurmann, joined in the community band’s second season in 1987.

Kathi Taylor also joined the community band in its second season and, after taking a few years off for her grandchildren, is back. Taylor played clarinet in high school but quit playing until she joined the community band.

“I saw the band live on the 4th of July, and they said ‘this is our last show of the season, but come next fall’ and so I did,” Taylor said. . “I was so excited. I had to go get a used clarinet really fast.

Valerie Ubbes joined the community group in 2011, and a year later her husband Bill Ubbes followed.

Valerie Ubbes began playing bassoon in ninth grade and spent her high school summers in the 70s at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She didn’t play the bassoon again until 2008 when Bill bought her one, and in 2011 she joined the community band.

Her husband, a retired engineer, played trumpet in high school and was in a jazz band in college. Bill Ubbes put his instrument away for about 20 years, until his wife told their church music director that she knew someone who could play the trumpet. He has played every day since.

“It’s fun, it’s a good group of people and it’s an opportunity to play.” said Bill Ubbes. “It’s the highlight of the week for a lot of us.”

Bill Ubbes says his favorite memory in the community band is of a Christmas concert in Uptown.

“We were supposed to play ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ until Santa Claus comes,” said Bill Ubbes. “Well, one year Santa Claus got lost, so we played ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ for about half an hour. The conductor was looking around and saying, ‘I think I see, no, it’s not him.”

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Photo by Olivia Patel | The Miami Student

The Oxford Community Band attracts a wide range of ages, with a 23-year-old as the youngest current member and an 83-year-old as the oldest.

Over the years, some longtime members were unable to continue in the group.

“They’re moving into assisted living and can’t play anymore, and we really miss them,” Bill Ubbes said. “It’s like losing a parent.”

Mary Keister moved to Oxford in 2020 and joined the community group about a month ago. Keister said the group is a creative outlet and a great way to meet new people.

“It’s hard to get to know people in the community if you don’t engage in activities, so for me it’s a way for someone who’s newer to Oxford to get out and [meet] people while engaging in an activity that I truly enjoy,” Keister said.

Keister started playing drums in fifth grade. The band have long been without a percussionist and are delighted to have Keister.

Gregg Wentzell has been chairman of the community group since 2011. He joined the community group in 2001 after seeing an ad in Oxford Press and talking to friends who were already in the group.

“I did not join right away, I made myself [in] fit a little better and finally showed up for rehearsal,” Wentzell said. “It’s a perfect form of stress relief and something I didn’t realize I had missed as much as I did until I started doing it.”

As president, Wentzell’s role is to organize concerts, listen to feedback and welcome new members.

The group has about 20 regular members. Members of the community group came from all over the Oxford area, including Hamilton and Fairfield, Ohio, and New Haven and Richmond, Indiana. Many members of the group are Miami teachers, retired Miami teachers, and music teachers.

“The fact that we can attract everyone from local workers to students, teachers and retirees is a very diverse group,” Wentzell said. “It’s interesting that we have different people with different input on music and what they like to play on.

Austin Marshall is a group manager in Union County, Indiana. Marshall has been a member of the Oxford Community Band for about a year. He heard about it from another band manager in Indiana who is also part of the community band.

“One thing I really love about the band is that instead of being on the podium, I get to be where my students are when I’m yelling at them every day,” Marshall said. “Here I sit and think ‘maybe I could have done better’, so this is a humbling opportunity.”

Valerie Ubbes said her favorite part of the community band was performing for others.

“The most exciting part of the band for me is playing in nursing homes, the senior center and getting around town wherever we can play,” said Valerie Ubbes. “Giving music and gigs is really great, because the audience appreciates that and we play for them.”

Miami fourth-year student Kat Magnone joined the community group about a year and a half ago and said she enjoys its laid-back atmosphere.

“I started [in the band] because I had really missed something in my social calendar,” Magnone said. “I had always been in some sort of musical ensemble until I came to Miami, so I really missed that connection I had with the music and with my fellow musicians.”

The Oxford Community Band’s next performances are December 3 at the Oxford Holiday Festival in Uptown Park at 5 p.m. and December 12 at the Oxford Senior Center at 6:30 p.m.

The community group is always looking for new members of any playing ability, and no audition is required. Interested potential members can contact Gregg Wentzell ([email protected]).

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