Encore Band played it again
HUGHESVILLE – Recently, guests at the Wolf Run Senior Care Center were entertained by “The Encores” a New Horizons Band. Members were dressed in holiday colors, with ornamentations affixed to several instruments including a colorful garland around the big bass drum.
With the wave of her baton and bells on her jester’s hat, Montgomery resident Lucy Henry took her turn at leading the band.
The name “New Horizons” is an identity describing national groups made up of individuals age fifty and older. “The Encores” identifies the local group, who refer to their home as being the Robert M. Sides Family Music Store in Williamsport.
“Since the fall of 1997, several seniors committed to revive their musical talents, and become the first band of its type formed in Pennsylvania,” said Barbara Smith of Williamsport.
Twice weekly, three directors are in charge of two hour rehearsals held at the store. All directors are former music educators retired from the Williamsport School District and include Al Nacinovich, Lucy Henry, and Judy Shellenberger.
Henry emphasized that to join the group one need not be a budding instrumentalist, as beginners are also welcome.
As a beginner this was important to Marc Sheaffer whose expertise is with piano which doesn’t qualify as a band instrument. “Three years ago we were sitting at an outdoor concert at a Montoursville park when the spouse of a member said beginners were welcome. So, I dusted off my father’s trumpet, took three months of lessons after which I was tutored by band members. One in my section was age 91,” Sheaffer said.
Sheaffer’s trumpet has a local history for it belonged to his father, James Sheaffer who was a music professor for thirty years at Lycoming College. The late trumpeter and his horn holds significance as the father played it in the 1937 gathering of the All State Band.
Sheaffer currently resides in Loyalsock but readers may remember him as a Pennsdale resident from 1983 to 1993. “I’m so happy I joined and am among the two-thirds of our 26 member band who attend practices twice weekly,” Sheaffer said.
For Elinor Decker Hallabuk of Laporte, picking up a trumpet again was one of three items on her bucket list. After retiring from the English Department at Muncy High School more than 15 years ago, the Montgomery native had only played during her seventh and eighth grade school years. “I knew all the basics and in January of 1999 decided to begin again. It’s a great experience; we’re like one big family. An added bonus is that playing the trumpet is good for the lungs,” Hallabuk said.
According to Henry, “The band happily performs six to seven concerts at the end of each semester with venues mostly within Lycoming County.” They are hosted by nursing facilities, retirement centers and of course, the mall.
The close knit group looks forward to taking the challenge of learning new and more difficult music as each season approaches. Director Henry said, “The really important decision for each outing is where do we eat?” which brought a wave of laughter from the group.