Kirby Band resumes rehearsals

Kirby Band resumes rehearsalsThe Kirby Band is pictured on their bandwagon. (Provided Photo)
Kirby Band resumes rehearsals

The Kirby Band is pictured on their bandwagon. (Provided Photo)

The Kirby Band of Nichols, N.Y., believed to be the oldest continuously performing community band in the nation, resumed rehearsals on Jan. 25, 2016 after a holiday break. The band participates in parades and concerts from Memorial Day through mid-December each year.

In 2015 the Kirby Band performed 11 parades and 14 concerts including three at senior care homes. Of the 14 concerts, four of those were performed at Kirby Park in Nichols, N.Y. All were free to the public.

Rehearsals are held every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Kirby Band Building on West River Road in Nichols, N.Y., just west of the entrance to Tioga Downs.

For many years the Kirby Band was forced to pick up and move as rehearsal rooms in the Hallwares Building or schools were no longer available. This sometimes required moving music and equipment from one place to another. In 1994 the band lost their rehearsal room in the Nichols Elementary School and was in need of a place to practice and store music and equipment. They were able to lease the old Asbury Church on West River Road from the Asbury Community Club. The band installed new lighting and found a way to heat the building safely with an exterior heater. Since then the building has been the home of the band for rehearsals and storage.

The Asbury Church is believed to be the first church erected between Owego and Elmira on the Pennsylvania side of the Susquehanna River. The church was founded in 1822 and continued to hold regular church services until 1920. In 1930 the Asbury Community Club, Inc. was organized to repair and maintain the building and utilize it for local social gatherings. The building was eventually ceded to the club by the Wyoming Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Early on, the building was heavily used for community dinners, dances, memorial services and the Annual Old Home Day. Funds were raised through dues and contributions to maintain the old building. As time went by, the younger generation lost interest in the community club, and membership dropped to just a few. The last recorded meeting of the Asbury Community Club Board was August 16,1987.

The building was used for storage, but with limited income, maintenance became more of a problem. In the fall of 2009 a new arrangement was made between Kirby Band and the Community Club where the band would assume responsibility for maintenance in lieu of rent. The two organizations cooperated on the cost of installing a new steel roof. In January 2011 the building was ceded to the Kirby Band by the Asbury Community Club.

Since taking ownership in January of 2011, the Kirby Band has restored and painted the exterior of the building. The interior has been remodeled, floors sanded and varnished, the building completely insulated, and electric heating installed and the Kirby Band name was placed on the front of the building along with the band logo. All these renovations were accomplished with grants from the Mildred Faulkner Truman Foundation of Owego, N.Y.

Since 2008 the Kirby Band has applied for, and been supported, in part with, public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Program administered by the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. This has enabled the band to purchase many new and exciting musical arrangements which are fun for the band to play and enjoyable for the audiences.

The band has a large variety of percussion instruments, including a mallet keyboard (bells), and an electronic keyboard, which can be used as a piano and for many other percussion sounds. The musical library dates back to the late 1800’s with a wide variety of music from Sousa to pops and classical to Broadway, as well as recent music from new and refreshing writers and arrangers.

The Kirby Band is a volunteer organization. The only requirement for membership is a love of music, and it is open to anyone who desires to further or renew their musical skills. You must have your own instrument with the exception of percussion and be able to read music. Parades are performed from a specially built bandwagon. Some members, but not all, participate in both parades and concerts, which are the major source of income for the band. Most, if not all performances, however, are free to the public.

The band is always welcoming new members, especially high school and college students. Go to a Monday night rehearsal, check them out, and become a member of the Kirby Band family. Before stopping by, confirm a rehearsal by calling (607) 687-2718 or (570) 886-0229. More information is available online at

The Kirby Band is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Program administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.

Donations are welcome and may be made to The Kirby Band, P.O. Box 105, Nichols, N.Y. 13812. The Kirby band is an exempt organization under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code and classified as a public charity. It is advised you consult an expert as to the tax-deductibility of any donation.