New Horizons Band of Colorado Springs brings adults back into the musical fold 


click to enlarge Picking up instruments that have been left ignored for many years can bring a new joy to musicians' lives. - COURTESY NEW HORIZONS BAND
  • Courtesy New Horizons Band
  • Picking up instruments that have been left ignored for many years can bring a new joy to musicians' lives.

Enthusiasm for playing music is a terrible thing to waste. Yet, for many of us, the responsibilities of everyday life get in the way. Eventually, we may notice that the instruments we loved playing so much growing up have gone untouched for years, even decades.

That's where New Horizons Band of Colorado Springs comes into the picture. The nonprofit organization provides opportunities for adults to rediscover the joys of playing music in a variety of settings.

Founded in 2002 by Ed and Mary Nuccio, New Horizons started as a single band and has since grown into the umbrella organization for six ensembles. Currently, 170 musicians participate, with ages ranging from early 30s to mid-80s — 60 is the average — and skill levels from beginning amateur to advanced professional.

"They take their instruments out and they want to learn again, they want to play again," says Pama Beatty, who serves as president of the nonprofit's board of directors and is herself a percussionist. "I just love playing. We have some concerts that are absolutely wonderful, and you leave feeling so good. Being able to spend two hours every week playing with other musicians, it completely takes me away from everything, from all the stresses of the week."

Come January, the organization will be adding a Preparatory Orchestra catering to relative beginners who may or may not want to go on to the more advanced groups.

And no, Beatty tells me, I won't be able to get away with picking out rudimentary piano melodies in the keys of C Major and A Minor. "No, you can't just play those white keys, you have to know the black ones as well," she explains with affable patience. "I believe they'll need to have basic skills: how to read some easier music, know their D Major scale, and know the basics of their instrument."

But from there, the sky may well be the limit. In addition to its popular Introduction to Jazz classes, New Horizons' offerings range from jazz trios to a full-on orchestra. With a performance schedule that now exceeds 30 concerts per year, Beatty is excited about the organization's ongoing expansion, and the enthusiasm of its participants.

"I see the growth within them and their levels of musicianship," she says. "We are trying to get musicians to a position where they can go into the bigger bands and feel comfortable playing. But we don't force anybody; we just go with the flow and whatever they want to do."

— Bill Forman


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