Reedley College Community Band

Jan 14, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Education, Lorie Lewis Ham, Music, Reedley News

by Lorie Lewis Ham

Reedley College has a great music program and they also have a community band. Recently, we chatted with Christine Keenan who is the Director of Instrumental Music at Reedley College and the conductor of the Reedley College Community Band, and the Reedley College Community Orchestra, to learn more.

KRL: When did you first become involved with the band?

Christine: I became conductor of the band in 2013 and was a part-time instructor at RC for 6 years. I had a 2-year hiatus to take a position at another college, then returned to RC full-time and resumed leading the band in 2021.

Reedley College Community Band

KRL: Do you know the history of the band?

Christine: I know that I am following in the footsteps of legendary directors: Dr. Colleen Snyder, who recently retired, and Bob Nielsen before her. There are also a lot of local music directors and musicians who have come out of the Reedley College music program, some of them in the band now!

KRL: Is this an official RC band or are there members outside of RC?

Christine: The band is a community education course through Reedley College. Anyone in the community can participate. We have a college band that is just for RC students, but the community band is open to anyone. It is made up of mostly adults, but we have some local high school students who participate as well.

KRL: How big is the band?

Christine: The band is growing, and right now ranges from about 30 to 40 members each semester.

KRL: How often do you practice?

Christine: We rehearse on the 2nd and 4th Monday evenings of each month, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the college.

KRL: What makes this band unique?

Reedley: The members of the band come from a lot of different places around the Valley. Several are from Reedley, but some come from Sanger, Selma, Parlier, Kingsburg, Fresno, Clovis, and even Madera. I think it’s special that folks enjoy playing in the band enough to drive from all those different places.

KRL: What do you like best about being a part of it?

Christine: It’s a fun group of people who care about making good music. That makes our rehearsals the right mix of having a good time together and working on our repertoire to prepare for performances.

KRL: How do you choose the music you perform?

Christine: I program a wide variety of music in terms of the style and challenge level to suit the experience and interest of the members (and audience). I always include some of the concert band classics that have stood the test of time, but I love exploring new music from living composers, and I like to throw in something fun and recognizable too, like from a familiar movie soundtrack. The band knows there will be one challenging piece on the program because no matter our age we can continue to grow as musicians, but I make sure to program a concert that I believe everyone can feel successful playing.

KRL: How do people join?

Christine: It’s easy to join! It’s a quick application on the Reedley College website to get a student ID number, and then you can register for the course online (MUS-380A Community Band). The semester will have already started when this prints, but anyone interested could still email me (christine.keenan@reedleycollege[dot]edu) to get signed up.

KRL: When do you have performances?

Christine: We perform at the Reedley Fiesta in the fall and we have winter and spring concerts. Our next concert is Friday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. in Reedley College Forum Hall.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Christine: We are always accepting new musicians (and audience members)! I would love to engage as much of the community as possible with our music making. With the new McClarty Center for Fine and Performing Arts opening later this year, we are excited to be able to invite the community to share our music there soon.

You can follow the Reedley Community Band on their Facebook page.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet. Lorie’s latest mystery novel, One of Us, is set in the Tower District of Fresno and the world of community theatre!<

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