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Band alums back for encore

We salute Rock Falls High School band alumni who have gotten together to rehearse and raise money for the current band. We look forward to next month’s performance.

Published: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

In the 1980s, Rock Falls High School Marching Rockets band members made beautiful music together. Some alums of that famed band want to do it again. We like the sound of that.

The Marching Rockets of that era were a big-time marching band. They traveled extensively to perform (even journeying to Canada). Many former members have fond memories of those days.

Count Gretchen Koehler-Swaney among that number.

Koehler-Swaney, a 1985 Rock Falls High graduate, played snare drums and the xylophone for the band. During the past several years, she has reconnected with former band members and with the current band program at the school.

At last year’s homecoming, 40 former Marching Rockets joined Koehler-Swaney to perform or attend.

And the excitement continues.

A Rock Falls Marching Rockets Alumni Band has been formed. The group plans to perform at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dixon on March 16.

Some people may wonder how a bunch of 40-somethings can drop what they’re doing – they have families and careers, after all – to meet regularly to rehearse.

High-technology and social media solved that problem.

The group uses Facebook to communicate. YouTube is utilized so that “virtual” section leaders can play music, provide instructions, and post the video so other band members can practice at home. The group also uses video conferencing.

Those online connections help band members get the most out of their twice-monthly in-person rehearsals.

Alumni band members not only have fun reliving those Marching Rockets glory days, but they have raised money to help the current band. They’re also raising awareness of how enjoyable being in a marching band can be.

Proponents of school music programs say that getting students musically involved helps them to achieve in other areas. Based on the creativity, dedication and loyalty demonstrated by these band members, we’d have to agree.

We salute the Rock Falls Marching Rockets Alumni Band. We look forward to its upcoming performance next month in Dixon.

Embracing a dream, members of this marching band refused to yield to the difficulties of achieving it. Three cheers for them.

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