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Teacher hopes to launch a community band

Rosemount Middle School band teacher John Zschunke wants to give the community's musicians a chance to play together.

John Zschunke knows how much he would miss music if he no longer had an opportunity to play. He figures there are plenty of people in Rosemount who feel the same.

So, he's going to create the opportunity.

Zschunke, the band director at Rosemount Middle School, wants to put together a community band. He doesn't care how long it's been since you last picked up your trumpet or your trombone. There won't be tryouts. Nobody will be excluded. If you've got an instrument and you've been longing for a chance to make music, he wants to hear from you.

"I've been thinking about this for a few years," Zschunke said. "My last daughter is graduating from high school. I needed more to do."

The band is open to everyone from recent high school graduates to senior citizens.

Zschunke sees plenty of good reasons to start the band. He thinks a new music group will be a good addition to Rosemount's cultural landscape. But he also believes it will be a valuable outlet for onetime musicians who are looking for a creative outlet or just for the camaraderie that comes with playing in a band.

That's something Zschunke has experienced his entire life. His father was a band director, and Zschunke grew up in the band room. He knew about musical score order by the time he was in sixth grade and he played in just about every group he could find when he was a student at the University of Minnesota. In addition to teaching at RMS he plays professionally in four groups.

"To teach it is one thing, but to sit and perform it is another," he said. "You can just sit down with people and play and talk and even if you don't speak the language, you can communicate."

Zschunke figures there are plenty of former musicians who miss that connection. He's already seen evidence that's the case. He's brought up the idea of the band to some of his band parents, and he's seen their eyes get big as they think about the opportunity.

Zschunke doesn't know yet exactly what the band will look like. That will take clearer shape once he has some musicians. He'd like to play a holiday concert, and maybe do something at Leprechaun Days. If the rest of the band members want to do more, he could put together different seasons. If response is really good, he could see spinning off a community jazz band, or partner with the National Guard band based at the Rosemount Community Center.

The band will practice once a week. He has talked about timing rehearsals to coincide with rehearsals for the Rosemount High School marching band, so parents can drop of their kids and come up the hill to play their own music for an hour or two. He has room for about 70 musicians in his classroom. If the band gets much bigger than that he'll have to find somewhere else to rehearse.

Zschunke plans to announce the band at upcoming middle school band concerts, and RHS band director Steve Olson has agreed to make an announcement during his band's upcoming shows. Anyone who wants to know more can contact Zschunke through the band's website,

Zschunke is excited to see what happens next.

"It's going to be good on so many levels," he said. "It just makes the community better."