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Don't Let The Music Die: Help Find Home for LB Jr. Concert Band

by Jeffrey Varney

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(April 26, 2012) -- I am writing as a proud parent of a member of the Long Beach Junior Concert Band. For those that donít know, this is a band that has represented the City of Long Beach for 60 years and was founded by the late Marvin Marker (the "Pied Piper of Long Beach").

As the band is celebrating its 60th year, what is the City of Long Beach and its City Council doing to help celebrate? Itís taking away the band hall the band has been using for the past year and moving them to...nowhere. The band must be out of the building by June and they have nowhere to go.

While I understand the budget problems cities are facing, I find it hard to believe the City of Long Beach cannot come up with a building for this band to use. They are not asking the city to fund them. The kids pay dues; contributions come from local businesses plus donations from parents, alumni, volunteers and the hard work of the staff and parents fund day to day operations.

All the band is asking from the city is the same that has been provided in the past: a band hall thatís big enough for the band to practice, to store the equipment, and to park the trucks. Once again, I find it hard to believe the city doesnít have an empty building that would fulfill these needs.

We all know Long Beach is famous for wanting to see a return on their investment. Letís ask ourselves, "Whatís in it for the city?" We can start with all the advertising this band does for Long Beach. With their rolling banner leading the band down the street proudly displaying "LONG BEACH Junior Concert Band," every parade is a rolling advertisement.

When they appear on national television at the Hollywood Christmas Parade leading Santa for the past 40 years, you hear the television announcers say "And here comes the LONG BEACH Junior Concert Band." And how about the other numerous events this band has done over the years from appearing in television commercials, movies, NFL games, and numerous events in and around the Southern California area as well as Japan, Nevada, and Northern California. And for the price of a band hall, the "Official Host Band" for the City of Long Beach and all the advertising the city receives from it may cease to exist.

Letís consider the sociological return on investment. This band is composed of young people (ages 12 to 21) from Long Beach and the surrounding areas. The demographic make-up of this band is the same as Long Beachís make-up. There are kids in this band that come from neighborhoods where they could very easily be on the street causing havoc, and are instead in the band hall practicing their instrument.

There are kids in this band from families with very little money, but yet they have a place to go to, and at very little expense. There are kids in this band that come from broken homes and look to the adults that run this band for that adult guidance they donít necessarily receive at home. I would venture a guess that just one of these kids landing in jail (or worse) would cost this city more than a years worth of "rent" for a band hall.

And how about the impact this band has on its members. I was a member of this band in the 70ís and I can tell you my most lasting memories from my childhood come from my time with this band (and I can assure you that most members would tell you the same thing).

This band instills character, honor, and integrity in all its members. The motto "Character Building Through Music" are not just words. It is a philosophy that is engrained in these kids. Youíd only have to spend a short amount of time around these kids and youíd see the way they work with each other and care about each other and look out for each other is genuine.

The commitment these kids make to be in this band is unreal. LBJCB has 1-2 practices per week plus performances and fund-raising activities. It is not unusual to see kids doing their homework during breaks on rehearsals nights. Itís this type of commitment that will lead to these kids becoming successful adults in the future. Iíd hate to see this go away for the price of a band hall.

I would ask anyone who would like to see this band continue to exist to write and call the Long Beach City Council to reconsider not providing a new location for this band to practice. The band staff is working feverishly to locate a new band hall they can afford, but itís not looking good so far.

Iíd hate to see the music die down for the cost of a band hall. I would hate to see 60 years of tradition die for the cost of a band hall. I would hate to see Marvin Markers vision die for the cost of a band hall. Shame on the City of Long Beach if this is the reason the Long Beach Junior Concert Band ceases to exist.

s/ Jeffery W. Varney
Proud parent and alumnus of the Long Beach Junior Concert Band

Related coverage: LB Jr. Concert Band -- Celebrating Its 60th Anniversary This Year -- Is About To Lose Its Rehearsal Hall, Office & Storage Space Shared In City-Leased NLB Bldg; Band Is Actively Searching For New Facility's Sound Off doesn't necessary represent our views but does represent the opinions of the writer. We welcome responses in quick form below AND if you have an opinion article on something else LB needs to hear, email us at:

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