The Westminster Municipal Band

The Westminster Municipal Band

Musicians wanted – The Westminster Municipal Band. I found this recruitment display on June 11, 2020 in the window at Coffey Music in Westminster and it made me smile. No matter how much I tried – I could not get a better picture of the window display. If you are interested in joining the band – email the band with this address: recruiting@westminsterband.com. For more information go to: www.westminsterband.com

I have great childhood memories of playing in the Wm. F. Myers and Sons Band. My wife, Caroline, currently plays the bassoon in the Westminster Band.

I have written about the band on a number of occasions – but this piece, from 16-years ago in 2004 might be my favorite. Interestingly enough, although I wrote it in 2004 for the Baltimore Sun, this version has never been published.

A History of the Westminster Municipal Band

Excerpted from the July 15th, 2004 unpublished long version of “Heavy Metal Garage Band in Westminster finds Home” by Kevin Dayhoff

Between 1857 and 1952 there were 40 bands incorporated in Carroll County. Records of the Westminster Municipal Band go back as far as the 1860s.

In 1893 it was incorporated as the “Westminster City Band.” According to Sandy Miller, the Director of the Westminster Municipal Band, “the band is now officially celebrating 111 years of sharing music in Carroll County and the surrounding tristate area.” Band Director Miller was very helpful in filling me in on the rich history of the Westminster Municipal Band – for it seems our “Garage Band” is the Westminster Municipal Band.

The band has undergone many changes throughout its 111 years. The uniforms have changed color, from tan to Green and Gold. The name also changed in 1950 when the band reorganized as the “Westminster Municipal Band” and the City of Westminster pledged financial support to the group. The Color Guard was formed in 1961 and really sets our band apart from the other bands. (“Westminster Municipal Band” By Westminster Municipal Band Director Sandy Miller, July 12th, 2004.)

From the beginning, the band has been a totally volunteer organization. Those who participate are involved because of their love of music and the opportunity to share that love with the community. Members range in age from 14 – 80 and there are no auditions or membership fees.

A big part of the band’s success is that it functions as a family. The group literally has many members of the same families as members of the band. Other family members attend band functions as our “groupies.”

The Westminster Municipal Band regularly participates in local Firemen’s parades; Memorial Day and July 4th celebrations in and around the Carroll County area. The highlight of the Band’s playing season is the yearly trek in June to Ocean City for the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Convention. As the “Official Band of the MSFA,” the band leads the parade each year down Baltimore Street.

One big part of the band’s success is the relationship we have built with the City of Westminster which has provided some financial support to the band since the 1950’s while the Band provides musical assistance and entertainment at many City events.

The Band and the Westminster Fire Company have a long history together as well, with many Fire Company members in the Band and the Color Guard. In the early part of the 20th century, and again near the end of the century, the band met for their weekly rehearsals at the Westminster Fire Hall located on Main Street.

In 1998, after the Fire Company moved to its new building on John Street, the Band was again looking for a new home. That search ended, again, with the help of the Westminster Volunteer Fire Company. The Fire Company was in possession of the old Plumbing, Heating Supply Co building on John Street, and wasn’t using the space. An agreement was reached and the band moved to 40 John Street in January, 2001.

In the spirit of the many private – public partnerships that have made Westminster successful, The Westminster Municipal Band, The Westminster Fire Department and the City of Westminster have joined forces to give the Band a long-term home.

In the spring of 2003, the Fire Company demolished the back portion of the building, but left the area the band rented standing. It was decided that the Band, working with the City and Fire Company, could renovate the existing storefront to better accommodate the band’s needs. Members of the Band, Fire Company and the City have provided much of the labor, while the City has worked to provide a portion of the funds needed by way of a downtown rehabilitation grant fund.

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The Westminster Municipal Band in 1929

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