The Oxford Community Band (OCB) has been bringing together members of the Oxford community of all ages and backgrounds since the late 1980s, and is currently seeking more musicians. Ted Beerman started OCB as a means of bringing people together in a relaxed atmosphere to play their instruments simply for the joy of playing. However, last year, the band suffered its lowest participation ever, and this year they are looking to replenish their ranks.
Last Tuesday, The Oxford Community Band met at Talawanda Middle School at 7 p.m. as they do every week for rehearsal. Local people from the community dotted the room, ranging in age from middle school to retirees. Before rehearsal started, the members chatted pleasantly with one another and warmed up their instruments. The director, Bob Eckhardt, entered the room and welcomed both old and new members to their 25th year as a band. Band members smiled and greeted Eckhardt, while one member noticed his shirt that read, “It is what it is.” They laughed and noted how fitting the quote was for their group.
OCB prides itself on not holding auditions for new members. The band is comprised of people from all different walks of life and skill levels while still playing great music. The band welcomes any member of the community who has a musical background and knows how to play an instrument. Even if you don’t have an instrument or the means to get to practice, they can hook you up with a ride or tuba. The band “is what it is,” and proud of it.
“I like to tell jokes and have fun, but I like to get to business too. We are kind of like a tight knit family,” Eckhardt said.
The band performs a mix of older and newer music including marches, songs from movies and holiday classics. They mostly perform locally at senior centers, parks and have also played at Oxford’s Fourth of July celebration for the past 25 years. Band member and Miami University employee Matt Evins highlighted how the band benefits the community.
“We provide entertainment for community functions and always get great feedback. We have a following that comes out to watch us play and therefore bring people together to participate in their community,” Evins said.
In previous years, OCB has had Miami student involvement, but now there is a lack of student participation. Recent Miami graduate Cait Pantano played with the band during her career at Miami and said that Miami students should join the band as a way of building the community.
“I think that [OCB] could be a good bridge between college students and the people who live and participate in the community,” Cait Pantano said.
Those interested in joining can go to the band’s website at www.oxfordcommunityband.com and fill out the contact information, email the director Bob Eckhardt directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or just show up to rehearsal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday nights at Talawanda Middle School.