Interview with Deb Heiney, August 9, 2018

Muhlenberg College: Trexler Library Oral History Repository
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00:00:11 - Interview Introduction

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Partial Transcript: KATE RANIERI: My name is Kate Ranieri. I’m here at Wenner Hall in Allentown, Pennsylvania, interviewing one of the Allentown band members. I’m going to ask her if she could say her full name and her date of birth.

DEB HEINEY: My name is Deb Heiney. And my birthday is May 18. And you want the year?

KR: So we’d like to hear your story about your involvement with the band. If we have your permission, we will move forward.

00:00:53 - Early interests in music / choosing an instrument to play

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Partial Transcript: KR: All right, very good. So the first thing I want to ask you, or actually say, is thank you very much for letting us do this. We really do appreciate it. So first thing we want to talk about is how you got into music in general. Like, when did you start playing an instrument? What interested you? And then eventually move into the band. So I’ll just let you run with it.

DH: OK. I went through the Parkland district school system. And one of my older sisters played clarinet in the band. And I always watched her practice and thought it was pretty neat, what she was doing. And so I, at the demonstration in elementary school, I decided, well, I wanted to play the saxophone.

Keywords: Bassoon; Clarinet; Lehigh Valley; Pioneer Band; Saxophone; community bands; music education

00:02:48 - Joining the Allentown Band

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Partial Transcript: DH: And then I came over to the Allentown band. And I’ve been with the Allentown band since 1991.

KR: Playing bassoon?

DH: I started playing bassoon with the Allentown band, but also doubled and subbed on bari sax, tenor sax, percussion, bass clarinet. And now, I’m pretty much playing bass clarinet for all of the jobs.

Keywords: Allentown Band; baritone saxophone; bass clarinet; bassoon; percussion; tenor saxophone

00:03:12 - How the Allentown Band has evolved

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Partial Transcript: KR: So tell me about how the band has evolved in the last 50 years, if you can, like, 50 years ago. So anywhere you want to start.

DH: Well, let’s see. I haven’t quite been in this area in music for 50 years. But I can see knowing about the history of the band. There’s just a very big tradition of excellence with the Allentown band. We do a lot of concerts locally, free for most of the audiences, some that are ticket-priced concerts.

00:03:51 - Youth outreach programs

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Partial Transcript: We also have an outreach program that we do, which that is something that’s really come along just since Ron Demkee’s been the conductor. We started in the mid-nineties with our youth concerts, where we invite schools from basically third grade through eighth grade, students from the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. And we do two concerts at Allentown Miller Symphony Hall. And it’s free for all of the students.

Keywords: Lehigh Valley; Miller Symphony Hall; music education; youth concerts; youth outreach

00:04:54 - Youth response to outreach programs

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Partial Transcript: I love working with those kids in that way. And we get responses usually from the kids in the form of pictures that the teacher asked them to draw something that they found interesting at the concert. And we get a lot of great responses from the kids about how they loved “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” or they loved hearing, seeing an oboe for the first time. They didn’t know what an oboe was.

Keywords: Lehigh Valley; music education; percussion; tuba; youth concerts; youth outreach

00:06:12 - Side-by-Side concerts

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Partial Transcript: We also do a side-by-side concert for ninth through twelfth grade students. And that’s for students to come in and play alongside the Allentown band members. And that we started somewhere, I believe, around 2005. And I coordinate all of the students that apply for that through high school. We sent out information about the concerts.

Keywords: American concert band; Meij, Johan de, 1953-; Side-by-Side concerts; Sousa, John Philip, 1854-1932; West Park; music education; youth concerts; youth outreach

00:09:44 - Demographics of students involved in youth outreach programs

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Partial Transcript: KR: When you’re talking about the students who come into these educational programs, what would you say is, can you give me a sense of who’s in the band? Is it all white students? Or Puerto Rican, or African American? Or do we have a diverse male-female?

DH: For the side-by-side, the high school, when they’re playing with us? Yeah, it’s a variety of ethnicity and levels of students. We have students that come from all of the local high schools, some of the schools in Schuylkill County, in Northampton, Lehigh, Berks, Carbon, Monroe.

Keywords: Lehigh Valley; Meij, Johan de, 1953-; youth outreach

00:12:29 - Demographics of the Allentown Band

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Partial Transcript: KR: Talk about the make-up, since we’re talking about issues of demographics, about your band members, in terms of age, from who’s the youngest to the oldest, the make-up in terms of ethnic, racial, gender.

DH: Sure. Well, I think our oldest person is 90. I’m not sure when he’s going to be 91, but he’s 90. And I think the youngest person we have is a person who just graduated from high school in June of 2018. He’s in his freshman year of college.

00:15:54 - The future and evolution of the Allentown Band

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Partial Transcript: KR: As you think about the future for the band, what are your prognostications, if you will? What do you think the band, is going to happen to it? How’s it going to grow or not, or change?

DH: Well, one of the things that we have been concerned about is the idea of concert band music that has, some places, it has a large audience. Some places, it has a small audience of people who enjoy that type of music. We are trying to make sure that our community knows about us.

Keywords: Carnegie Hall (New York, N.Y.); John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (U.S.); Lehigh Valley; West Park; Williams, John, 1932-; community bands; community outreach

00:22:03 - Planning the Allentown Band educational programs

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Partial Transcript: KR: Absolutely. Just when you’re talking about the education program, you’ve got it down. You’ve got lesson plans, all of it. That doesn’t leave you at all, does it?

DH: No. No, it doesn’t. And one of the things that I like to do, there are a lot of symphonies that, over the years, have developed youth programs. And so I’ve gone and looked at a lot of their educational services and what kind of product they put out.

Keywords: Meij, Johan de, 1953-; Side-by-Side concerts; youth concerts; youth outreach

00:30:19 - Harpists / Silent film accompaniment

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Partial Transcript: KR: And the woman who was playing the harp when Johan was, (inaudible). Come on.

DH: She’s another one that’s excellent, an excellent harp player. The harp player that, in fact, Dorothy Knauss, the lady that was with the band for 69 years, she was Andrea’s teacher at one point. And Dorothy, she played, yesterday on TCM was a silent movie day.

Keywords: Romberg, Sigmund, 1887-1951; harp; silent films