American Band: Music, Dreams, and Coming of Age in the Heartland

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Penguin, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 324 pages
3 Reviews
"Kristen Laine went back to the heartland-- to the America so many of us fly over without blinking an eye-- and uncovered ... a world where salvation and ambition and teenage angst collide in strange ways no outsider could ever understand, unless you read American Band."
--Michael Bamberger, author of Wonderland: A Year in the Life of an American High School

Every fall, marching bands take to the field in a uniquely American ritual. From the stands, it looks easy. You don’t see them sweat. For millions of kids, band is more than a show. It’s a rite of passage—a first foray into leadership and adult responsibility, and a chance to learn what it means to be part of a community. Nowhere is band more serious than at Concord High School in Elkhart, Indiana, where the entire town is involved with the success of its defending state champion band, the Marching Minutemen.

In the place where this tradition may have originated, in the city that became the band instrument capital of the world, band is a religion. But it’s not the only religion, as director Max Jones discovers. After four decades, Jones’s single-minded devotion to musical excellence has fallen out of step with a younger generation increasingly focused on personal salvation. In what his students do not know is his final season of directing, he has assembled his most ambitious show ever, for the strongest senior class he has ever directed. Amid conflicting notions of greatness, the band marches through a season that starts in hope and promise, progresses through uncertainty and disappointment, and ends, ultimately, in redemption.

AMERICAN BANDis an unusually intimate chronicle of life, in all its triumph, disappointment, and drama, in the kind of community in which most of America lives. It is an especially timely portrait, capturing as it does the spirit of the heartland at a time of profound change. If you have ever been—or yearned to be—part of something bigger than yourself, you will be rooting for the kids whose voices fill this book.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - angelofmusic_81 - LibraryThing

I've been a band geek most of my life so of course I was drawn to this book. The way Laine tells this band's story, it ends up feeling somewhere between a cheap novel and a soap opera. Her writing ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - willyt - LibraryThing

The author presents a little more than a year in the life of the Concord Community High School marching band, one of the more successful marching bands in Indiana. In presenting this "slice of life ... Read full review


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About the author (2007)

Thirty years after she marched in an Indiana high school band, Kristen Laine returned to the state, moving her family from New Hampshire to Elkhart to immerse herself in the story of the Concord High School Marching Minutemen. She is an award-winning journalist whose commentaries can be heard on Vermont Public Radio.

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