Musicians & Music

Meet the extraordinary men and women of Northshore Concert Band who have dedicated their lives to making music!


Debbie Durham

Debbie Durham plays the Clarinet and has been with the Northshore Concert Band since 1979. She is a retired band director and lives in Mundelein.

When and why did you start playing?  I started playing when I was 10 years old.

What do you enjoy most about playingI enjoy playing because it challenges me.  It challenges me cognitively, physically, and emotionally.  It is the interaction of these aspects that drew me into music as a profession.  It continues to hold this mystique for me all these many years later.

Do you have a favorite musical memory?  One of my most favorite musical memories was playing “The FInal Covenant” with John Paynter conducting.  The sheer richness of sound and emotional context was almost overwhelming.  I remember seeing tears in JPP’s eyes.  Just an awesome experience.

What are your musical influences?  My early mentors were my band director, Jimmy (Scooby) Burns and my clarinet teacher, Curtis Craver.  My undergraduate musical influences were Raymond Gariglio (conductor and clarinetist) and John Weigand (clarinetist).  In graduate school, my greatest influences were John Paynter and Clark Brody.  I continue to be influenced by John Lynch, Mallory Thompson, and other fine musicians that I meet through the Northshore Concert Band.

Who was your most influential music teacher?  It is difficult to just pick one.  For clarinet, my most influential teacher was Clark Brody, who I studied with at Northwestern.  For almost everything else, it would be Barbara Buehlman, whom I affectionately called Auntie Barb.  She was my first boss and mentor.

Does anyone in your family play music?  My brother, who passed away in 2016, also was a musician.  He played guitar and sang. 

What’s on your iPod?  I listen to music when I work out so it is a very eclectic mix.  I have Weather Report; Earth, Wind, and Fire; Eric Clapton; Joni Mitchell; Black Crowes; Take 6; The Beatles; Bruno Mars; Samuel Barber; Sting, Bach, Philip Glass, Berlin Philharmonic, Bobby Caldwell…

Do you have any advice for young musicians?  Practice, listen, observe, and learn.  I can’t say enough about practicing.  It is a mantra for me.  Being recently retired I am relishing in the opportunity to extend my practice time and play with several different types of ensembles.  I love listening to music of all types.  It is important to expand your musical horizons by broadening your listening repertoire.  When I go to conventions or clinic, I like going to rehearsals almost more than the performances.  Watching a great conductor work through a composition and the interaction between conductor and ensemble is very interesting and instructive to me.  I always think you can learn from every experience. Always be open to taking something away

What makes performing with Northshore Concert Band different than performing with other groups? The caliber of conductor and musicians in the group and their commitment to excellence makes this very different from other groups. 

List three words to describe the Northshore Concert Band Dedicated, challenging, evolving

Please add anything else that you would like our audience to know about you. I am a retired band director.  I have taught elementary, middle school, and high school band.  I also taught AP Music Theory.  In my retirement, I am enjoying photography with my husband, Ralph.
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