Music brings the community together. The pandemic has made me realize
what a big part of my life the band is. The band friends I have made playing since 2002 are wonderful.
There’s nothing, as they say, like making music with your friends!
Meet Susie Herrick with the Sequim City Band
Susie grew up in Flandreau, a small town in South Dakota. Her parents loved music, and so made every effort they could muster to make sure all 3 of their children would play in the school bands. For Susie that began when she was entering the 5th grade. Ronald Samp, the Superintendent of Schools, who wore many hats, gave her the first flute lesson in the kitchen of her parent’s restaurant, the Pantry Café. It turned out the party room in the rear of the Café would end up being her practice room.
“Flandreau was a small town, and the entire community put a huge emphasis on the music program,” Susie remembers. “Flandreau High had a great concert band and nearly everyone participated in the marching band as well. Ron Whalen, high school director, was loved and is remembered to this day by his students as ‘Big Daddy’.”
In high school, Susie traveled with a few fellow flute members of the high school band to nearby Madison to take private flute lessons from the only female band director in South Dakota at the time, Corky Bowles. Corky was not only a flute teacher, but she became a mentor as well. She took a personal interest in all of her flute students working also with them on their declamation pieces—not music-related at all. Susie says music is a conduit to all the arts. When music is promoted and supported, it leaves a lifelong impression and becomes part of one’s spirit.
Fast forward to 2002 when Susie moved to Sequim from Anchorage, Alaska, upon meeting Bob Golightly, he asked if she played an instrument. Did she play an instrument? That was all it took. Susie pulled out her flute, purchased in 1964, joined the band, and then realizing she needed work, she took some refresher lessons from Signe Crawford. Later she became uniform coordinator, joined the band Board, became the band’s liaison to the City of Sequim, and overseer to engrave memorial bricks.
She wants more people to be aware of the band. In 1992 founding director, Church Swisher started the band with a minimal number of members rehearsing at Sequim High School and playing on the grass along with its audience in Carrie Blake Park. Though it’s called the Sequim City Band, the Band is a 501(c)(3) and has always depended on donations rather than any monetary support from the City. Later a fellow band member’s family sponsored the building of the James Center for the Performing Arts, the current bandshell, as well as the rehearsal building, Swisher Hall, located directly behind the bandshell. Due to growth in membership, the Band is outgrowing its rehearsal space and is hoping to build an extension to Swisher Hall. Susie believes an extension would also allow for additional equipment storage space as well as improving acoustic and ventilation conditions.
Susie has high praise for the Sequim City Band’s current conductor and music director, Tyler Benedict. “He has an MA in conducting and a love of music that is contagious!” she says. “Tyler really challenges us and has a widespread reputation as a professional conductor.” This reputation has drawn players from as far away as Forks and Gig Harbor. Sequim, she believes, is an amazing place because it has attracted so many artists, performers, and musicians. She looks forward to once again making music for Sequim residents and visitors as we emerge from the pandemic. The band plays everything from marches to musicals to classical, and she loves it all.