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Lehighton Boys and Girls Band celebrates its history

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    Alyssa Schoch, left, director of the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band, and Christine Simock, a student of music lessons at the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band Hall, perform during an open house at the band hall on Saturday. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    Peter Petrack of Lehighton, a Moravian College graduate with a degree in music composition, plays a trombone solo during an open house at the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band Hall on Saturday.

Published September 10. 2018 11:05AM

Officials of the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band in Lehighton showed Saturday how they stay in tune with the community.

They staged an open house at their band hall, located at Sixth and Coal streets.

Those attending were advised that the band hall is more than 60 years old. The history of the band, itself, dates back 108 years to 1910.

At the open house, old photos were displayed depicting the whole history of the band. A narrative history of the band was presented, members of the band gave musical demonstrations and individuals mentioned how the band provides music to the community in numerous ways. They include prepping students for the high school band, providing low-cost lessons to anyone in the community and offering concerts.

A history of the band, written by Jessica Petrack and presented in a program that was handed out, said the band was formed by Engine Company No. 2 of Lehighton in 1910 and had its name changed to the Lehighton Boys Band in 1914. It wasn’t until 1981 that girls were admitted. The name was then changed to the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band.

Petrack said the band hall was completed and dedicated in 1957.

She highlighted numerous accomplishments in her capsulized history, stating, “The Boys Band made quite a sight in the 1940s, with over 100-plus young men marching by lantern-light, dressed in uniform and cape, parading through Lehighton’s streets. Being accepted into this band was a major event and honor, when junior band members received their jackets and began performing with this gem of our community.”

Alyssa Schoch, director of the Lehighton Boys and Girls Band, said, “The band hall is part of the reason I became a music teacher.”

Robert Fetterman, who served in a teaching and director capacity for many years from the 1980s to the early 2000s, was among the speakers.

He said he became aware of the band in the 1970s while he was the elementary band director in Tamaqua.

“I was very impressed that the borough had two bands,” he said, referring to this band as well as the Lehighton Band, then known as Lehighton Men’s Band.

Fetterman spoke about the importance of the band and the role it plays in the development of youth.

He shared memories how directors of the band kept expenses down, thus keeping the cost of lessons low, by doing many improvements themselves.

Ron Rabenold said his family was musically inclined. His father and brothers played the trumpet. He had played the drums.

He said when he was in the band, lessons were available for $2 per week. Today lessons are still inexpensive; only $10 per week.

One of the students, Christine Simock, who learned to play the flute as an adult, performed “Irish Folk Dance” on her instrument with Schoch.

Peter Petrack, who was a student of Fetterman and graduated from Moravian College with a degree in music composition, played two selections on the trombone, accompanied by Lisa Schweitzer.

Student Saige Kleyman played “Aristocats” and “Tisket a Tasket” on the flute with Schoch.

Sisters Anada and Lydia Gowin played the selections “Frere Jacques” and “Aura Lee,” with Amanda playing the clarinet and Lydia playing the flute.

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