Profile of Ken Johnson

What first brought you to the New Horizons Band?

I played in grade school in the early 1960's and with the Madison Municipal Band for a while in the 1980's.  Then I got too busy with work and family and didn't play for almost 20 years. I happened to see information about NHB when I was at Ward Brodt for my daughter's piano recital in 2002 and joined soon after.  I was a youngster in my early 50's.  

 
Why do you play the instrument you play? 
I play euphonium in the concert band and trombone in the swing band.  The euphonium has great harmony parts and a rich sound.  I started on trombone after a music director demonstrated all the instruments in the band to my 5th grade class. I thought the trombone was the coolest, even though my arm wasn't long enough to extend the slide all the way to the end!  As was the tradition, I was switched to euphonium when I reached 8th grade.  A few years ago, I decided to take up up the trombone again to play in the swing band after refresher lessons from Peter.   
 
What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience w/ NHB?
Playing in a group that is so welcoming and led by conductors who are such patient teachers.  It's a treat to be able to play different instruments and styles in the two bands.    
 
What has been the most challenging?
Sight reading, especially when the page is black with notes or in an unusual key.   Subdividing (ah one ee and a two ee …) does not come easily for me.
 
What other musical bands, endeavors, or outlets do you pursue? I play on and off with the Madison Municipal Band and UW Summer Band.  I'm in Phoenix some winters and have played with the Arizona Winds, a very good band with several excellent euphonium players.  I leave the difficult parts to them and I try not to play in the rests.  I also play in Tuba Christmas here and in AZ.  Nothing like the sound of 150 euphoniums and tubas playing carols together.
 
What outside of playing music are you passionate about in your life?
We enjoy living in downtown Madison near the Capitol, Overture Center, UW and all the activity on the Square. I take full advantage of being able to audit UW classes for free as someone over 65.  Currently, I'm taking a course in Classic Greek Literature (it's much better than it sounds!) My younger daughter is a world traveler and I've made trips to New Zealand and Japan to spend time with her.  I'm part of a group that has "adopted" White Horse Middle School and I enjoy being involved with activities that help meet the many needs their students have.
 
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