(Hanny speaking:)    It all started when we had several sessions with a group of young people at First United Church who had the idea to do something with adults. A mixed-age- group activity.  Lots of suggestions including one of a church orchestra of some sorts.  At the beginning of the school season I put up a sign-up sheet in the hall at First United and nine people signed up.

A bit frustrated I came home one day and complained to my husband, Cees that I was unable to find musical leadership for this group. And he said: “Hon, I’ll help you. But tell the people who sign up that I want commitment.”   Cees and I had been involved in community bands for a life time, so there was lots of ‘old country experience’ sitting dormant for almost 18 years. Timidly we started, Cees still playing the trumpet himself to fill in this missing part.

We had a first performance at one of the Variety Concerts in 1997, if I remember correctly. It sounded dreadful, but Cees said: “I hear potential.” And the people of First United gave us their full support as we went along.

Eventually we had attracted a good number of people from the Salmon Arm community itself and at some point it was Jean MacLennan who suggested we could no longer call ourselves the First United Church Band because we really had become a Community Band.

At first we were supplying the sheet music from our own personal library.  Then, with people paying a yearly contribution, we were able to purchase music to gradually build the Salmon Arm Community Band’s music library.  Later with the donations from our concerts, we were able to purchase more music stands and even some instruments that people rarely have at home – like a big drum, tympani, and even a glockenspiel and xylophone.  Individuals in the community started donating money to buy selections of the kind of music they so hoped to hear us play.  Band members also started to donate music pieces of their personal choice.  It has became interesting and challenging having the music come into the band via these different sources.  It is a good thing that our conductor is so versatile and accommodating.

And on we went: adding on “Friends of the Band” to arrange advertising and take donations at the door during concerts.  Many people participated in making it grow, giving the band the support such a young group needs, especially in the beginning.

(Cees speaking:)  I grew up in Holland, where at that time every community or village had a Community Band of some sort. Taking music lessons started early and it was not uncommon that at the age of nine a person already joined an orchestra, while continuing with the lessons.

My wife and I both started this early in an orchestra like that, playing in mixed age groups where you learned fast. Of course it was expected that you had to practice hard and keep learning more about music and your instrument in order to be able to take on more challenging parts or to bring yourself as far as becoming a leader/conductor of the band. And that’s where I found myself eventually.

And then we immigrated to Canada.

We missed playing in an orchestra and made a few attempts to start the kind of band we thought would enhance and enrich a community to no avail.  When Hanny started work at First United so many years ago, we had no idea that that would eventually sprout the seed for the Salmon Arm Community Band.

We both hope that what was built over a period of 19 years will continue to make this significant contribution to the Community of Salmon Arm, with the underlying thought:

“Not for fame but for the love of music, to the best of our ability – young and older growing together because of this shared experience.”

Cees and Hanny Kooyman