A Brief History of the McKinney Community Band
Back in 1972, McKinney Community Band’s co-founders, Bill Sleeper (now the band’s Director Emeritus) and Ed Schwarz (percussionist), first became acquainted in a Dallas area community band. Ed moved to McKinney in the 1990s and met a new friend, Lisa Miller, who worked with the McKinney Performing Arts Center and had also done some sound engineering with the Richardson Community Band.
Lisa told Ed that McKinney needed a band. Ed agreed and discussed it with Bill. Soon Ed and Bill found themselves in then McKinney Mayor’s Bill Whitfield’s office, with Ed, a retired aerospace engineer, ready to make a persuasive argument in favor of the band. To their surprise, and before Ed uttered a word of his sales pitch, the mayor said, “I know why you’re here, and I think it’s a great idea!”
Bill arranged interviews and pictures with the McKinney Courier-Gazette and The Dallas Morning News. Both were extremely supportive and offered a large space in their respective papers, giving the band essentially free advertising.
Meanwhile, David Taylor, then director of the new McKinney Performing Arts Center (housed in the historic courthouse) asked Ed and Bill about playing for the Ice Cream Crank-off in downtown McKinney. The band men agreed, despite not yet having musicians or music. That faith in the community paid off with a delightful concert for the crowd and even a broadcast interview of several of the players. The music itself was heard on KNTU, the student radio station at University of North Texas in Denton.
And that was the beginning. Since then, we have grown in numbers, music ability, friendliness and fun. Now, 10 years later and with new leadership (and a well-deserved breather for Bill Sleeper when he wants to travel between band concerts), the future is bright indeed for the arts community in McKinney and the MCB in particular.