Musical Mastermind

28 Apr 2019

Local Conductor Leads Community Band

Winter 2018/2019

Written By: Kristen Pope | Images: Megan Peterson

Zach Singer was in fifth grade when he first picked up the electric guitar, jamming to Jimi Hendrix and other classic rock of the ’60s and ’70. By middle school, the budding Musician gave percussion a try, taking up the drums. The more time Singer spent playing Instruments, the more he fell in love with music. Today he is conductor and music director for The Jackson Hole Community Band alongside a variety of other musical endeavors.

Music and art run in the Singer family blood. When the four Singer siblings were young, their father played a variety of instruments and their mother always encouraged them to enrich themselves through art and music. She encouraged him to join Portland, Oregon’s youth orchestra when he was in middle school, and his days were soon spent immersed in Beethoven. Zach’s older brother was also drawn to music, and he is now an elementary school music teacher.

After high school, Singer opted to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he majored in percussion performance. While he was there, he took a class in conducting, learning how to analyze scores, cue, and present—skills that are now essential in his work with the community band. “There’s a lot to conducting,” Singer says. “You have to be very versed in musicianship and transcription—and most important is style.”

Singer went to graduate school at the University of Texas, Austin, and then he made his way to Jackson, where one of his sisters lived. He found summer work in a restaurant and as a rafting shuttle driver. One summer afternoon, he was waiting by the river for a rafting trip to conclude when a local musician started chatting with him about the Jackson Hole Community Band, encouraging him to join.

The next summer, Singer decided to give it a try. “I was just going to show up and see what happened,” he says. He walked in and asked if they needed a drummer. He says the then-conductor’s eyes got wide with excitement as she welcomed him into the fold as a percussionist.

A few months later, the band needed a substitute conductor for one rehearsal, and Singer led the group again. “It was nerve wracking, but it was definitely fun,” he says. “There’s a certain thrill being up there.” He subbed a few more times during the season and then heard the conductor was moving out of town and the search was on for a replacement. He applied and officially became the band’s conductor and music director in 2016.

Band members include teachers, librarians, retirees, and even a judge, and they range in age from teenagers to people in their 80s. The number of band members fluctuates, but each of the eight annual concerts typically has 30 or 40 members in attendance. Singer always emphasizes the band is for enjoyment above all else. “Community band is not about being perfect,” he says. “It’s about having fun and learning at the same time.”

When he’s not conducting, Singer teaches music and drama at Journeys School. He’s also a member of the Idaho Falls Symphony as the principal percussionist, where he mostly plays the timpani, one of his favorite instruments. Additionally, he plays with the Jazz Foundation of Jackson Hole, drums in The Phat Basturds Irish band, plays gigs like weddings, and teaches private music lessons. Whatever he’s doing, it’s safe to say he has music on the mind.

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