Iowa native Bard Mackey has been playing second trombone famously in wcfsymphony for years, but he is perhaps more well known to countless local citizens who had their introduction to music in his Cedar Falls elementary school band programs. Here he outlines the different rewards of between being a teacher and a performer (and, for that matter, a beer-brewing motorcycling gardener):
“I started band in 5th grade in the Anamosa Community School district (down by Cedar Rapids) like about everyone else. My dad was the band director for the Penitentiary inmates during the early 1960s so he helped me a little bit.
“I’m recently retired, but in my previous life I was an elementary band instructor in the Cedar Falls Schools. My typical day consisted of early morning band rehearsal at 7:30 am, then band lessons from 9-3:35 with about 25 minutes off for lunch. Then, if there was a symphony rehearsal or concert, I returned to Cedar Falls for that. Many of those days would begin at 5 am and end around 10:30 pm. Then I’d get up to do it all over again the next day!
“I used to receive really nice letters and emails from parents concerning their children’s concerts, which meant the world to me. I hope they were the better for having been under my instruction and in my bands!
“I enjoy wcfsymphony for so many reasons. I love the independence, the pride of being a professional, the idea of doing something that truly uplifts people. It’s great to play the terrific music, to play with performers who play in tune, with great sounds, musically, good style, etc. I loved the little guys but I was afraid if I only played along with them, I’d eventually just sound like a 6th grader, too!
“While I was teaching, I tried to get ready for symphony gigs after school, before school, and a lot on weekends. I will confess that I did indeed rely a lot on experience at times when my schedule was full and I wasn’t able to get in all the practice time I wanted. One of the things I’m doing with my freer time now is practicing about 1 ½ -2 hours a day and I sound better than I have for about 33 years .. I hope.
“Another great part of retirement is being able to pursue my non-musical interests. I’m an avid motorcyclist, love to travel, enjoy brewing my own beer, am a pretty good tomato and pepper gardener, and am the oldest of ten children.”