Band alumni groups for a specific band were featured in the March School Band & Orchestra issue. Another form of band alumni groups is a band in the St. Petersburg, Florida area now celebrating its 35th anniversary.
This group is known as the St. Petersburg Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band, or “Rounders” for short. Their website entices anyone associated with a band or its auxiliary units (majorettes, flags, banner bearers, dancers or drill teams) to continue to enjoy those rich experiences of school or college band life.
Bill Findeison, founder and director, has a masters degree in music from Florida State University and taught and directed both junior and senior high school bands for five years. He then opened a music store in St. Petersburg, Florida, his home town, and quit teaching. As part of his music store promotion, he considered a float in a local parade, and perhaps a marching band as well. Advertising for potential marching band members in the local newspaper, he had 75 people show up to an announced pre-parade rehearsal. “That was a nice number to start with,” offered Findeison. The band and auxiliary units number about 500 today.
As the band grew, several challenges were faced. Among these was access to instruments. While some members still had their instruments, many needed repair. Others simply didn’t know where their instruments were or had sold or given them away. Solutions varied
from loaners from local high schools and colleges to short term rentals from music stores. The Rounders group later began to purchase some mellophones, sousaphones and percussion instruments. Today the group has members ranging in age from 18 to 84 years, that rehearse five or six times, perform seven or more times and usually travel to a few out of town events. Their backgrounds include numerous high schools, 47 different colleges, and military bands as well as drum and bugle corps. Members come from 27 states and three foreign countries. Nine original members have been active for the entire thirty-five years.
Interviewed on a previous anniversary of the Rounders, founder/ director Bill Findeison was asked why the group was so successful and had grown so large. “You may not remember second period math, but you do remember band…the fun you had and the trips you took.”
The Rounders have a high level of expectation. With a very short and intense performing season of 3-4 months, advance preparation is required. Music to be performed is made available online to be downloaded by the band members and they are expected to have
practiced their individual parts and be ready for a well prepared, full band rehearsal.
This short season approach keeps the band experience fresh and allows for lots of camaraderie and social life…like reliving the school or band experience every year.
There have been many notable performances over the years. One of only ten bands invited to the Macy’s 2008 Thanksgiving Day parade saw a 500 member Rounders group march and perform. That was the largest band in the Macy’s parade history. The following year around 300 traveled to Calgary, Canada for the famous Stampede. There they marched and performed in concert. Appearances have also been made at the Cherry Blossom Festival in the nation’s capitol, the Portland, Oregon Rose Festival, and St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Georgia and in Ireland. In 2016, over 200 members traveled to Seattle, Washington’s Seafair. There they performed a concert at the Space Needle and marched in the Torchlight parade.
The social side also includes a few nostalgia filled activities for the remainder of the year. Alumni and friends of this awesome band will rejoin for a gala 35th Anniversary bash on April 29th at a Clearwater, Florida, country club.
For this 35th Anniversary year, the band is staying close to home. In part, that will allow a reunion of sorts with former members who may be unable to travel anymore. But, that said, a busy schedule with an intense rehearsal schedule is still the drill. The group is celebrating its 35th Anniversary with a new website, concerts at the Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays’ opening game, Pinellas Festival of Community Bands, and a local arts festival with parade marching performances at several sites in the central Florida area. That’ll keep one out of the rocking chair!
What about the future? Well, 2018 and beyond will find these seasoned performers back on the road again. Planned are the Conch Republic Festival in Key West as well as Tampa Bay and other Florida appearances. Under consideration for future appearances are the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and a few other distant events.
The significance of the Rounders would be sufficient for some notice, but their very existence as the first such band has spawned other similar organizations. Portland’s Rose Festival executive director visited St. Petersburg in 1983 where he observed the Rounders’
performance at Florida’s Festival of States. He took the idea back to Portland, Oregon, and in 1985, a 75-member One More Time Around Again Marching Band (OMTAAMB) performed in the Portland Rose Festival candlelight parade. Today the Portland band and its auxiliary units, like its older sister, number over 500!
Other similar alumni band groups also came into existence including New Horizons International Music Association (NHIMA). These New Horizons groups not only provide activities for former school or university music program participants but also include adult individuals who have never played an instrument.
What do the Rounders mean to the larger music community? Many the members are also active in their former school band alumni groups. One board member and his wife maintain two homes, one in Georgia, and the other in St. Petersburg. This arrangement allows him to continue as an active board member of the Redcoat Alumni Band (University of Georgia) and participate in both the support and performing roles at his alma mater. Both perform with the Rounders, his wife as a majorette, and he as the drum major of the band.
Around twenty Rounders are also members of the St. Petersburg Community Band. Community bands are seeing a resurgence in many towns across the country. Roger Green, associate director of the community band for the last ten years, also is on the Rounders Board following a 35-year career as a public-school band director at both middle and high school level. Both organizations facilitate the other by avoiding conflicts of rehearsals and performances. School Band & Orchestra will explore the community band movement in a future feature article.
And so, what does the Rounders mean to its members. Perhaps the best summary comes from the auxiliary coordinator, Cathy Kersten. “My husband of 37 years passed away in 2010, and looking for something to fill a need for social activities, I remembered the information that I had heard about the Second Time Arounders. We were so impressed and discussed how fun it would be to join that group someday, when our schedules slowed down.”
“Well, I took a leap of faith and drove the 2 hours to the Rounders’ majorette’s rehearsal. I fell in love instantly, enjoying the activity we all had in common, a love for twirling and performing!! I made the commitment to driving over every Tuesday for rehearsals, sometimes staying over with one of the ladies. That was 2011 — Having an instant connection with the Rounders and still running the Florida Marching Band Championships (FMBC) at Tropicana Field, the domed stadium in St. Petersburg, I moved to the area in 2016. This band has given me a sense of belonging, a family atmosphere, and heck, I hope I can do this until I’m 100!”
So, “Come On, Ya Know Ya Wanna Do It!” may just be an understatement! For former band members, majorettes, drill team, flag or dancers in the central Florida area, information about the Rounders can be found at secondtimearounders.org. The Portland One More Time Around Again Marching band website is omtaamb.org and the New Horizons site is newhorizonsmusic.org. If there isn’t a band group like this near you, maybe your next move is to start such a group!
Directors who make a Difference
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