Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Ted Eastman leads community band to success


August 31, 2017

The Moose Lake Area Community Band performs in a concert in the Moose Lake City Park with summer.

Ted Eastman found a new challenge when he took over as the Moose Lake Area Community Band director in January this year. The success of the summer concerts in the park confirms he is doing the right thing.

"It's been a terrific summer," he said in a recent interview. "The attendance at the concerts was remarkable, compared to in the past. There were 100-120 people at each concert."

Eastman's years of experience served him well as he took the community band in a new direction.

"The band played in the park on Monday evenings for years, but it was known as a rehearsal," he said. "There weren't always the number of people that came this summer.

"I talked to them (the band members) in January after I took over and I said, 'Let's play for the people.' I set up a different theme every week. Line dancers performed at one of the concerts. That was a good one."

TV show themes and sing-alongs were also popular, said Eastman.

"I stated in the articles that I put in Star-Gazette that the concerts were for kids, from ages 2 to 92," Eastmen said. "The Hokey-Pokey was a great one. For the TV themes, people were sure they knew the name of the show with the familiar theme, but they couldn't come up with it, in many cases. They enjoyed the sing-alongs, too, more than I thought they would."

Music and playing instruments have been a part of Eastman's life since he was a young child.

"I started playing the accordion when I was 6 years old," he said. "I am still working on that."

Eastman had attended Moose Lake High School and played in the band.

"Kenneth Larson was the band director when I was in high school," he said. "I played the sax in those days. Pat (who later became his wife) played the baritone, so I switched to the baritone."

Eastman became a band director himself.

"I taught in Hinckley for two years, McGregor for a year and then I taught in Moundsview for 22 years. I learned to play all of the band instruments when I was the band director. I had to learn to play them to some degree to teach students how to play them.

"I also had the privilege of playing for Xavier Cugat and for Aristotle Onassis," he said. "Cugat came to Rochester for medical treatment. He was so impressed with the doctors and the nurses that he wanted a concert for them on the roof of the Kahler Hotel. That's how I played for him."

After he retired, the Eastmans spent winters in Florida.

"I wanted to build our home on Pat's parents' property," he said. "She was not in favor of building there, but it would be OK if we were not there during the winter. She had memories of being snowed in."

The Eastmans had been married for 60 years when Pat died on January 17, 2016. Eastman sold their place in Florida, he said.

Beth Dinger had been the director, but left at the end of last year. That's when Eastman found a new challenge to fill his life.

"I spend a lot of time writing music for the band," he said. "I arranged all of the TV themes, the sing-alongs and some of the other songs that we played. I couldn't buy the arrangements for the TV themes or many sing-alongs either. It was fun to have my arrangements played."

There are 24 members of the band, said Eastman. Merton Sheetz is the assistant director, but leaves for the winter, as do two others. The band members come from Moose Lake, Kettle River, Cloquet, Sandstone and Finlayson, he said.

"They are so committed," he added. "They come to every rehearsal and every concert. We like to schedule our rehearsals and performances on Mondays because they keep that day for the band."

The community band will move into the new school for its rehearsals.

"I have been there several times to look it over," he said. "The band room is close to the auditorium and to the gym. That's so important when you have to move instruments, especially the piano. It is set up real nice."

As he looks back on the success of the concerts this summer, Eastman is thankful for the members of the band.

"It was a challenge for them," he said. "They performed for a dozen concerts without a rehearsal. Besides the park, we performed at the depot and at the fair.

"The band members are so helpful. Rose Kuhlman makes 50 posters and made the banner, and Donna Eckman makes the arrangements for the Fourth of July parade. They all are a whole lot of help. The summer went real fast."

Eastman said plans are being made for a fall concert and maybe a winter concert. There will also be performances during the Christmas season.

"I have been privileged to have the opportunity to conduct this band," he concluded. "I conducted the New Brighton Community Band when I was at Moundsview, and the Manatee Community Band in Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida. This is, by far, my favorite. It is a very talented and committed group of musicians."

The band has a performance coming up on September 17 at 2 p.m. in the courtyard or activities room at the Augustana Care Center.

"We are always open to new members," Eastman said. "Our first rehearsal is September 11."

For more information, call Eastman at (218) 485-8746.


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