Profile of Muriel Gilbert
What first brought you to the New Horizons Band?
I saw an ad in the paper in August 1992 notifying interested people who were over 50 years old, that a band was forming. I liked the part about ‘no experience needed’ because I had only played a borrowed flute in high school, had no music lessons, and hadn’t played a flute since leaving high school (had to leave the borrowed flute behind), which was over 30 years.
Why do you play the instrument you play?
Two reasons: My sister played the clarinet in our high school band and after listening to her squeek and squawk during her practice, I knew I didn’t want to play the clarinet, although I love the sound of a well-played clarinet now. I attended one of my sister’s concerts when I was in the 8th grade and she was in the 10th grade. The flute section had a featured part in one of the pieces and I thought they sounded heavenly, so that had a big influence on my decision. The second, more practical reason, was that I had to walk a mile to the bus stop to get to school with almost an hours bus ride, and there were no back packs in those days so I really couldn’t carry my books AND a big instrument. So, flute it was!
What has been the most enjoyable part of your experience w/ NHB?
I love the opportunity to make music with others. If I only had myself to listen to, I probably would have quit long ago. I’ll never be good enough to be a solo player, but do pretty well adding a little ‘filler’ to the section. I think learning new pieces all the time forces my mind to stay sharp and active and that’s a good thing when you get up in years. The New Horizons Band came along at a time when I really needed something fun to do and nice people to be around. I had been divorced after a long marriage and I found the group to be a caring and supportive group. I had been so busy working at UW Hospital, and also working on my graduate degree, that getting out one evening a week to play music, meet new people, and finally have an opportunity to attend band camps, was just what I needed. We were a very small group when we started (about 16 people), so we knew each other very well.
What has been the most challenging?
My parents couldn’t afford music lessons for me, so I never learned to read music very well. Our high school band was full of people like me so we weren’t very good. In fact the music we play in the NHB is much more difficult than anything I ever played back in high school. I have a good ‘ear’ so that got me through a lot of difficult pieces—still does. My goal was to take flute lessons once I retired but then I met John, married him when we were both 62yrs old, and we have stayed very busy traveling and working in our flower and vegetable gardens on our five acres out near Spring Green.
What other musical bands, endeavors, or outlets do you pursue?
I have been in the New Horizons Band since the very beginning—25 years in fact. It is one of the most important things in my life and even though I don’t practice as much as I should, I miss very few band practices because my week doesn’t feel complete if I don’t make it to band practice. I played a few years with the Waunakee Community Band and really enjoyed it but found I couldn’t keep up with two bands and since the NHB was my ‘first love’ I stuck with it.
What outside of playing music are you passionate about in your life?
John and I have 8 kids, 9 grandkids and 3 great grandkids between us (most are mine), and they are scattered all over the country with 3 kids overseas. We spend a fair amount of time keeping up with them and trying to maintain close relationships. We love to travel and see/learn new things. We also own a one room stone schoolhouse that is about 150 years old. It is rented now but our dream is to move there when we are ready to ‘downsize’ from our present home. That will cut our commute to McFarland in half. John and I also love to cook and bake together and enjoy having friends over to share a meal.