Territorial Youth Band shows love in Montana

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Territorial Youth Band ministers over Valentine’s weekend.

by Kyle Reardon –

Suzanne Swenson works with beginning musicians in Billings, Mont. [Photo by Jeanne Baker]

The Territorial Youth Band (TYB) traveled to Billings, Mont., for Valentine’s weekend 2010 to share their music and ministry—the blessing of God’s love—with the community. After arriving from points including Alaska, Hawaii and Southern California, the group—under the leadership of Bandmaster Neil Smith—began rehearsals on Friday morning and worked hard throughout the day.

As evening approached, the band members split into two groups. The younger set, between the ages of 15 and 18, visited various spots in the community to distribute food, meeting people who depend on the regular meals provided by the Billings soldiers and Corps Officers Majors Kevin and Linda Jackson.

The older group participated in a one-on-one shopping trip with a group of local kids. Many of the children live on an Indian reservation. Some do not have shoes and walk to the corps through the dirty snow in their bare feet. Each musician partnered with a child and helped him or her purchase $100 worth of clothes at a local K-Mart store.

On Saturday the band rehearsed again and then conducted a clinic with beginning musicians; many of them were the children the band had spent time with the night before. The Billings Corps has a budding music conservatory with an impressive staff, and the TYB members were eager to teach and share their love of music with the young musicians. They taught the timeless classic, “Muffins Rhapsody,” and invited the children to join them that evening in performance.

On Saturday evening, the TYB joined advisory board members and volunteers at their annual dinner at the University of Montana at Billings. They passed out certificates of accomplishment and enjoyed the music of local talent. The band finished the evening with a musical program in the university theater. The joint performance with the local kids was a highlight of the evening and brought them a standing ovation.

As the Sunday morning dawned, the band joined the local congregation in a service of music, testimony and shared worship. Following a final meal with the corps’ people, the band members boarded a bus to the airport thankful for a weekend filled with music, fellowship and service.

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