Allen Purdy rolled with the punches his freshman year of high school when he got assigned to play the trombone instead of a more interesting instrument in the band.
Now 69, and a member of Stan Hywet’s Goodyear Concert Band, he can’t shake the itch to keep playing it.
Purdy has been in the band longer than any member. He began playing in the band during his junior year in high school in 1961 and has never stopped.
“I look at the rehearsals as a necessary evil. I enjoy the performance, that’s the reason I play. The band enjoys playing for people who enjoy listening to us,” Purdy said.
Stan Hywet’s Goodyear Concert Band performs all over Northeast Ohio and recently performed in Massillon at the Lion’s Lincoln Theater. The band has been playing for audiences in the area since 1919.
Besides Purdy, the band has about 50 other members ranging in age from 12 to 84. They require no tryouts and there are no age restrictions. All that’s required is the ability to play an instrument and withstand the perfectionist that is Director George Martin.
PRACTICING A PASSION
Martin, 71, of Akron has been directing since 2006 when the then “Goodyear Concert Band” changed sponsors and started playing under its current name.
Martin, like Purdy, has been involved in music for most of his life. After retiring from Akron schools as a band director he couldn’t stay out of the music scene for long. Three years later he took up the job as the director for Stan Hywet’s Goodyear Concert Band and said he continues to love pushing musicians to their potential.
“I am really tough on them and they respond exceptionally well,” Martin said, “It’s a special group of people but they make it that way.”
Every Monday the band practices in Akron at Stan Hywet Hall. Martin drives to what Purdy calls the “necessary evil” of the rehearsals in order to prepare for upcoming concerts.
Currently performing their holiday tour, the band tries to play something for everyone, including transcriptions from orchestras, overtures, marches, show tunes, rock tunes and swing music from the 1940s and 1950s.
Martin is passionate about directing the volunteer band. He said it allows him to practice his passion even in retirement. The hours he puts into rehearsal and preparation at 71 years old don’t overshadow the great reward he said he gets from each performance.
“The reward for me is standing in front of a musical organization and seeing them play in a way you know they can play. I never get tired of it. This job will never ever get old,” Martin said.
Page 2 of 2 - Purdy said the band practice has become a staple of his Mondays for years, and he plans to keep it that way. He said he agrees with what he heard someone say about the band, that it’s “Akron’s best kept secret.”
Martin encourages seniors to come see the concerts, but goes further to say that after retirement is a perfect time to peruse hobbies you love.
“You are never too old to become a part of any organization,” Martin said. “My encouragement to anyone my age is to get out and enjoy your passion.”
Most of the performances the band puts on are free, usually at community events, senior apartment facilities, or churches.