Maine Community Band
Maine, New York
Founded in 1861, The Maine Community Band is believed to be one of the oldest community bands in the United States. While we do not know for certain the exact reason for the founding, it seems a logical suggestion might be that the band was formed to play for Union soldiers departing to fight in the U.S. Civil War. In any event, records and diaries reveal the existence of a band in Maine since 1861.
The years following the Civil War brought us into a golden age of community bands. Many immigrants from Europe brought their instruments with them and the proliferation of instrument manufacturers and composers led to new forms of popular music. Since this era was pre-radio, the only manner to enjoy this new and popular music was to form a band and play for the local community. The band would be called upon to perform for church socials, clambakes, political rallies and other community events.
The Maine Community Band looked much different in 1861 than it does today. First, it was an all brass band. There were no clarinets, saxophones or flutes. This was typical of the period. Additionally, the band was and remained an all male organization until the advent of World War II. At that time, many young men left the band to serve in the armed forces and young women from the surrounding areas joined the band in their absence.
Following World War II the band began drawing musicians from well beyond the borders of the Town of Maine. With members coming from all parts of Broome and Tioga Counties, the band began to expand in size and perform in a broader area than just the town. This tradition continues today.
Today, the band continues to practice or perform almost every Tuesday of the year. Our members range in age from early teens to octogenarians. They represent all levels of musical skill. Some members live so close they can walk to rehearsals, while others drive from as far away as Montrose, Pa. There is one thing all members have in common. As a band, we remain committed to one cause: that music should be fun and accessible. We are truly a community band.