The band is back together again.
After three years apart, members of the SnoValley Winds, the Valley’s community band, dusted off their instruments and held their first rehearsal since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Welcoming faces old and new, the collective of musicians joined together inside the Snoqualmie Middle School band room on Monday night for the first time since 2019.
“We’re not really rehearsing tonight,” Band Director Mike Herb told the group. “We’re just enjoying playing.”
Herb, a Snoqualmie resident and band teacher at Silas High School in Tacoma, leads the band alongside his wife, April, a music teacher at Cascade View Elementary.
With Herb co-conducting, the group of roughly 25 musicians filled nearly every seat in the house. An additional 10 members are expected to join next week.
While there was some rust, a few hiccups and one reminder to tune their instruments, community music has returned. And in a fitting end, the group’s final song of the night was Steven Reineke’s “Celebration Fanfare.”
“It’s nice to be back in action,” said Lydia Pozznto, a percussionist who joined the band five years ago. “I haven’t played in a couple years, but I’m excited to get back into it.”
Pozznto said she has always played in community bands as an oboist, but switched to percussion when she joined the SnoValley Winds to fill a need.
“I never realized how exciting being a drummer is,” she said. “This gave me a chance to try something completely new in my retirement.”
In recent years, the band has gone from being adult-only to allowing high schoolers, as its youngest members. The oldest member is David Kelly, a 1954 graduate of Mount Si.
“I’ve been playing in this band since day one,” he said. “I’m the oldest guy in the band. That’s my claim to fame.”
Lorraine Thurston, one of the band’s tuba players and initial members, shared in the excitement. For Thurston, the band is a family affair, as she plays alongside her 21-year-old son.
“I like that he’s grown up through the ensemble and now he plays in the ensemble,” she said. “We have a couple other families like that.”
During the pandemic, Thurston said there seemed to be a growing acknowledgement that it’s important to step back and do things that make yourself happy.
“For me that’s definitely playing music in groups like this,” she said.
“You really can’t worry about things if you’re focused and playing music,” she said. “You kind of lose yourself in that process.”
Perhaps the biggest return of the evening is that of Dean Snavely, who founded the band circa 2007. Now the band director at Cedarcrest High School, Snavely returned to the Valley after a stint teaching and performing on the strip in Las Vegas.
“I’m keeping my composure together because this was my baby,” he told the band prior to rehearsal.
Snavely previously worked as music teacher in the Snoqualmie Valley School District, where he founded the SnoValley Winds — which he emphasized started as a joke.
Before the Snoqualmie Middle School Christmas concert one year, Snavely asked his students how many of their parents were in the band. He then rounded up a sizable group of those parents to put on a performance at the concert.
The band kept building from there, playing annual Christmas concerts and community festivals like Railroad Days and the Festival at Mount Si.
Snavely said he still remembers the face those parents made when they picked up their instruments for the first time in decades.
“It’s just this magic thing,” he said.
The SnoValley Winds band rehearses weekly and is open to new members. No audition required. More information is available at snovalleywinds.org.