By Pamela Dozois

Solvang School has a marching band for the first time since 2002, and it is planning to perform in the many parades and events that Solvang holds each year.

There may not be 76 trombones in this little marching band, but what they lack in brass they make up for with heart and soul and a passion for making music. 

“The band program had had a lot of turnover, and the school slowly stopped incorporating the class into its curriculum,” said Malia Maurer, who has been the music director at Solvang School for the past three years. “During that time there were probably eight different band directors that came and went. So it was impossible to have any continuity.”

Maurer studied music at UCSB. Before she graduated she started a small business of private music instruction in Santa Barbara, which she says grew to over 100 students. She offered piano, guitar, voice, song writing courses, and ethnomusicology, which is music found around the world. 

“My vision is, I want this band to be a central part of this town, being our only school in Solvang. I would like the community to support these young musicians,” Maurer said.

“Music was always my passion, but motherhood became my greater passion so I closed my business in order to raise my son and eventually my daughter,” she explained. “We moved from Santa Barbara to the valley and then an incredible opportunity came my way. I was asked to open Kindermusik in the valley. The company, which was located in Santa Barbara, wanted to expand its existing program.

“Being a mother of two young children, I realized there were very few offerings for children under the age of 2 in the valley. I started Kindermusik because I saw the need. 

There may not be 76 trombones in this little marching band but what they lack in brass they make up for with heart and soul and a passion for making music.

“I was working simultaneously at Kindermusik and Solvang School. I was still very much a mother, so I couldn’t give both programs the energy that they needed, so I knew I had to choose one and I chose Solvang School. Kindermusik continues to be a successful program in the valley.

“Being the musical director at Solvang School has offered me the opportunity to really challenge my skills and inspire new growth within me,” she continued.  “When I started here there were two band classes totaling 25 students. Now there are five band classes with over 100 students. One of those bands is our marching band.

“I discovered that we already had all the equipment and uniforms necessary to have a marching band, so I brought everything out of storage and revived it. After 17 years in storage you can imagine what the uniforms looked like, but they look great after being bleached and dry cleaned. We even have red sparkly bow ties. 

“We had enough clothing to fit everyone, including the additional students who carry our Solvang shields. Approximately 25 students are involved in the marching band, and we have plans to participate in many of our local parades.”

Maurer explained that what she likes most about band is that it is a group effort. No one is greater than the whole. The students have to open their ears and their minds and rely on each other for the success of the group. She feels that this is very important for youth, especially junior high students. 

“Other school subjects are more individual than the band class,” she continued. “We work with a common goal, which is the success of our performances. The school year runs from August to June, and we are asked to do one performance per semester. We will have done six performances this semester because the students want to share their music and their accomplishments with the public.”

“This is my second year in band at Solvang School and I really like the band class. I play the French horn,” said student Ilan Torres. “I played the French horn at my old school in Chicago. I’m learning how to read music too.

“I try to play from my heart. We play pop, blues, and classical music in the classes. I’m excited about performing and a little nervous about people watching us in the parade. The band tries to do as many gigs as possible. We just started in August and we’ll have played at four gigs before the end of the calendar year. Band is fun.”