Who We Are

Glenn Directing the BandHooked on Bands, Inc. is the evolution of the original “booster organization” for the Madison New Horizons Band that was first established in the fall of 1996. Membership in what we call HOB for short, is open to current and former band members, their families and friends, and anyone else who enjoys the kind of music played by the bands and who wants to ensure continuation of the New Horizons Band experience. Membership in Hooked On Bands exceeds 80 members located in at least eight states. In 2009 the HOB board of directors decided to transform the organization into a non-profit corporation and shortly there after it applied to the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax status. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, contributions to HOB other than membership are tax deductible. The new tax status also provides the ability of HOB to seek corporate contributions and apply for grants.

HOB is today the primary sponsor of performance opportunities for the New Horizons Band  throughout the region. Its mission is to enrich the community experience by providing an opportunity for (mostly) senior musicians toThe New Horizons Concert Band 2017 perform for public groups. HOB also sponsors the Fall Door County Band Weekend in Bailey’s Harbor, (Door County) Wisconsin that provides a three-day music workshop with guest conductors from around the country. HOB engages in additional sponsorship of programs to promote musical education and performance opportunities for individuals of all ages within the region.

Some of the Concert Band’s recent engagements include the Mothers Day Concert at Olbrich Gardens, the Middleton Ice Cream Social, the Annual Christmas Concert in McFarland, and a joint appearance with the Waunakee Community Band. The Swing Band has recently played for the Witwen Campground Concert Series, the Roxbury River Arts Festival, the Dean House Concert Series as well as dances and dinner parties for The East Side Club, Elks and the Sun Prairie Dance Club.

The Fall Door County Band Weekend is open to non-members and members of any New Horizon Band in the U.S., with only a small fee charged to participate. Rehearsals and sectionals are held from Friday noon through Sunday noon. Time for shopping, attending theatrical performances, and just relaxing is built into the schedule, as are at least two group meal options. Sectional programs typically include woodwind and brass ensembles, a German “polka” band, a drum circle and may include other programs as time and interest permits.


A Brief History of the New Horizons Bands of Madison

The New Horizon Band in Madison is the second oldest band in the country within the New Horizons program. It originated with Ward-Brodt Music Mall’s sponsorship of “Seniors Play Days,” a program held on the business premises on a Thursday and Sunday in October, 1992. Senior citizens were invited to the store to have a cup of coffee and try out any band instrument of their choice. A feature story in a local newspaper announcing the formation of the band prompted about 10 people to join. Two weeks after the “Play Days,” the New Horizons Concert Band convened for the first time with 16 members in attendance. Instruction consisted of similar instrument group lessons (for example, sax and clarinet, flute and oboe, and trombone and baritone). Trumpet and percussion groups were taught separately. The instruction materials consisted of the Yamaha Band method and associated books. The teaching staff included three teachers (one brass, one woodwind, and one percussion). The band gave its first concert just before Christmas after only 12 weeks of rehearsals. As the group became more accomplished, additional concerts followed.

In 1994, the band performed a joint concert with a local sixth grade school band, and since then, has performed for many grade school groups, sharing with those young people the timeless joy of music-making. The swing/jazz band program began in the summer of 1994 and has proven to be very popular with both the band members and their audiences.

June of 1994 was the date of the first week-long national New Horizons Band Institute held in Aspen, Colorado. Since then, national institutes have been held at Devil’s Head Resort in Wisconsin, Chautauqua and Lake Placid, New York, and at Palm Springs, California, in conjunction with the National Association of School Music Dealers Convention in February, 1997.

The first “Band Music Weekend” in Bailey’s Harbor (Door County), Wisconsin, was held in September, 1995 and sponsored by the Madison New Horizons Band.

The Madison Bands Today

Today, the New Horizons musical organization consists of two units: the New Horizons Concert Band and the New Horizons Swing Band. The first plays traditional concert band music, which includes classical selections, marches and Broadway and movie themes, while the Swing Band performs big band music from the 1930s and 1940s as well as contemporary rock and jazz pieces. Both bands are organized through the Ward-Brodt Music Mall in Madison with performances sponsored by Hooked on Bands, Inc., a non-profit corporation.

Members of the New Horizons Band are from all walks of life, and while originally intended for senior members, it does not turn away younger folks who wish to play with the band. Many of the members are employed full- or part-time, while many others are currently retired. Membership in the Concert Band totals over 60 members and the Swing Band has about 35 musicians. The Concert and Swing Band members are offered weekly rehearsal opportunities and periodic public performances sponsored by Hooked on Bands, Inc. Membership in each group is open to a wide range of individuals: those playing in a musical group for the first time ever; those renewing the musical skills they learned in school and are either resuming playing their old instrument or picking up a new one; and those who are accomplished musicians and perhaps even play in other musical groups.



The New Horizons Swing Band rehearses every Wednesday afternoon from 5:30-6:15 PM. The New Horizons Concert Band rehearsals follow at 6:30-7:30 PM. Rehearsals are open to the public as space permits. The rehearsals are held at the McFarland High School, 5103 Farwell St, McFarland, WI 53558.

For more information about the New Horizons Bands and how to become a member, you are encouraged to come to a few practices and sit in with the band. You can discuss membership with Glenn Nielsen (Music Director) or contact Ward-Brodt Music Mall directly at (608) 661-8600.


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