Stanton Community Band is hitting all the right notes

The Stanton Community Band and the district’s band members will be helping area residents ring in the Christmas season this week.
The district’s high school and junior high band and choir will perform in a Christmas concert at the Stanton Gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Dec. 15, and the community band will perform at the Stanton Old Lumberyard from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 17.
The choir and bands are led by Stanton’s new music and band instructor, Leland Lantz, who took over duties at the beginning of the school year. Lantz, who taught and later served as a pastor at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Laguna Woods, Calif., has deep ties to the Stanton community.
“I grew up in a farmhouse just three miles south of Stanton, and my brother, Kirk Lantz, still lives there to this day. I’d been at the same church for over two decades, and I felt it was a good time for me to transition back to the Stanton area. I served at the church until the very last Sunday of June of this year, and we moved back in July,” Lantz said.
Lantz felt at this time in his life, he was called more to serve the school, and the kids, and he’s always loved music, and he said he was contacted by principal Katie Elwood after Kelsie Schmidt took a position in Red Oak.
“This is a major program, and I’m kindergarten through senior band and choir. Elwood said there were no applicants out there, and she feared they would have to do some sort of sharing through another school. The numbers of the program were low also, there were only five kids in high school band at the time, so I said I’d give it a try, and I knew it would be a challenge, and here we are,” said Lantz.
Since he started, Lantz has gone recruiting and has boosted the high school choir from 11 students to 32 students since the start of school, and while some of them have difficulties reading music, they all have good pitch. Also around that time, Lantz had the idea to start up a community band.
“I suggested it in mid to late September, and we only had around five people initially. We started with pep band songs, but they were really difficult for people who haven’t played music in awhile. So we went back to the basics and started with the school song and the National Anthem, and they joined us at football games. Part of my goal was to send a message to the kids that music is something they can participate in for their whole lives, and some of them can help the younger kids with learning how to play their instruments. Also, it helps boost the numbers of people we have in the high school band,” stated Lantz.
At the high school Christmas concert, Lantz said he hopes to have as many members of the community band as possible attend and join the kids in performing “Jingle Bell Rock” during the concert. The community band will later perform, with any available kids who wish to be present, at the Stanton Old Lumberyard event on Dec. 17.
“They’ll be playing secular songs, such as “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” and we’ll probably have time to play through the songs at least twice at the lumberyard event,” explained Lantz.
Lantz praised the members of the community band. He said they have been doing very well since many haven’t played in a long time, and mistakes are limited to a missed note, or being a bit off rhythm. Lantz said the most important factor is that everyone is having fun, and in the case of band member Charm Carpenter, has inspired one of the younger kids to try something new.
“She plays bass clarinet, and she calls it ‘Bernie,” and the cool thing is that she inspired one of our sixth grade girls to switch from trombone to bass clarinet, and she’s picked it up very well. For all of the adult members, I think they feel like it’s a trip down memory lane, and I’m hoping they’ll keep getting better and better so we can do harder music, and play during basketball games and all that kind of stuff,” Lantz said.
Lantz himself is also enjoying the experience, saying he loves people, and loves eing able to draw them together to perform.
“I want to bring the heart of music out into the community, and I want the community people that played instruments in the past to come back out again, because it’s fun. Music is enjoyable, and whatever you put into it, you get back 10 fold,” Lantz commented.
Everyone is welcome to play in the band, whether or not they graduated from Stanton. The band meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays for rehearsal in the high school music room. Lantz added the public is welcome to attend one or both of the upcoming Christmas events.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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