Ernie Wetterer, 90, has been playing the trumpet for 22 years. He drives himself to rehearsals and performs with the New Horizons Band of Hagerstown. When he was 68 years old, Ernie Wetterer decided that it was time to chase his dream of learning how to play an instrument.
“I had the desire to play it and the opportunity came 22 years ago when (Hagerstown Community College) opened up a senior band class and they advertised it and I took the opportunity,” Wetterer said.
Now, at the age of 90, Wetterer drives himself to rehearsals and performs in about 15 concerts a year as part of the New Horizons Band of Hagerstown.
He lives in Sharpsburg, and retired from a career as a radar technician for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Wetterer has proved to other band members that getting older doesn’t necessarily mean that new skills can’t be learned.
“He’s an inspiration to all of us,” said Larry Weber, director of the New Horizons of Hagerstown Concert Band. “We would all like to be active when we’re his age, and that’s a product of music. It’s a lifetime experience that you can enjoy.”
The band is for those 50 years and older of all skill levels. Its goal is to give everyone an opportunity to perform and spread their passion for music.
“I am in awe of people like him,” said Kenneth Mowen, chairman of the New Horizons Band’s steering committee.
Mowen had played trumpet when he was young and took a long break from playing an instrument. When he came back, he decided to switch instruments and was excited to find an outlet in the New Horizons Band for getting back into performing.
“I know what it was like for me to try to go back to a different instrument after being off for 40 years. And having never played, I just find it amazing that people pick that up and do very well with it,” Mowen said.
The band is part of the national New Horizons organization and practices at Maranatha Brethren Church in Hagerstown.
Pat Beard, conductor of the New Horizons of Hagerstown pops ensemble, says that playing an instrument later in life can be beneficial in numerous ways.
“You are actually getting a physical and mental workout,” Beard said. “I think, and Ernie is a prime example, it certainly keeps you young and keeps you involved. It also gets you out so you can do a lot of cool stuff more often.”
Wetterer was the band’s treasurer for 12 years and though he’s stepping down from that position, he continues playing and has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
“I love music as well as playing the trumpet, so it’s a wonderful outlet,” Wetterer said. “It keeps me busy and I enjoy playing for people when we go; I enjoy seeing the audience responding to us. It’s really very enjoyable.” Published in Herald-Mail, Sunday, August 4, 2019 and used with permission
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