Community band seeks members in St. Croix Valley

Most people who play instruments in high school and college don’t have careers as professional musicians. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy the opportunity to pull out their trumpet or clarinet and make music with others.

Enter Valley Concert Winds, a new community band in the Stillwater area seeking members for its inaugural season this summer.

“There’s so many people who put so many hours into learning a musical instruments, and then when they graduate college, if they’re not a music major, they don’t have any place to play,” said Kyle Manley, co-director of the group.

Manley, the middle school band director at St. Croix Preparatory Academy in Baytown Township, said his first experience with a community band was in Rosemount, where he attended high school.

“For me, it was cool to see college-age students playing instruments along with people who had been playing their instruments for 50, 60 years,” he said.

Co-director James DeCaro is also a band teacher at St. Croix Prep. He said groups like this are plentiful in the state — but not in the Stillwater area, as he discovered along with his wife, who played French horn through college.

“We both enjoy opportunities to make music together,” DeCaro said. “The far East Metro didn’t seem to have anything that was close enough for us to commit to participate in.”

“We saw a void that needed to be filled,” Manley said. “The talent and the skills were there. There just needs to be an opportunity.”

In addition to the fun of playing music as a group, Manley said community bands offer a way to build friendships.

You see your friends and neighbors,” he said. “The music world’s a pretty small world, and usually in these community based [groups] you’re only one or two degrees of separation.”

Valley Concert Winds’ repertoire will include some traditional marches and band repertoire, as well as some pop music — “a little bit of everything for people,” Manley said.

No auditions will be required, and participation is free.

“We want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to play,” Manley said.

“If someone has played through high school or college and wants to pick up their instrument again, maybe they haven’t played in a few years, I think the group would be a good fit for them to get back into shape,” DeCaro said.

“We’d like to shoot, I think for 50 or 60 members this first season, see how it goes, and go from there,” Manley said.

Manley added that juniors and seniors in high school are also welcome. Younger players could join with a reference from their current teacher.

So far the idea has been well received, and a couple dozen musicians have signed up.

Practices will be at St. Croix Prep, 7-9 p.m. on Mondays, beginning June 5 and running through Aug. 17 (no practice July 3).

The first concert is scheduled for July 13 on the terrace at the Stillwater Public Library. The second concert is planned for Aug. 17.

For more information or to register go to or call Manley at 651.395.5900 ext. 5022.

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]