184. Bandstand: “I grew up in a musical family"

Photograph of musical band preparing to play
Ron Keller conducting the Naperville Municipal Band
Ron Keller has been actively involved with the Naperville Band for over forty years as a player, conductor and—for the last 35 years—as the director: “I grew up in a musical family. My great-grandpa got into the band in 1880. Led the band for about six years from ’85 or ‘86 through about 1895. My mom and dad both played in the band. My mother was an excellent musician. She played the marimba and she had an outstanding ear. She could listen to something and play it. So if you look at my family, the four sides of the family, music came in from three of the four sides. As a little kid, I remember going into Central Park and watching the band concerts and seeing my mom and dad play. Naperville in those days was a small town, you know, five thousand people. Thursday night was the night. How I got started was, I was infatuated by the tuba and the Sousaphone. In those days they called it the big bass horn. When I got into third grade, they brought a Sousaphone from the high school over to the grade school. I blew on it and made a big sound. The director laughed, and my dad laughed and he said, ‘well, I guess he can blow it.’ So that’s how I started on the tuba. The band has been called upon many, many times by the city. In 1981, Naperville’s Sesquicentennial, every theme we used that summer at our concerts was a salute to different things in Naperville. The mayor at the time was Chester Rybicki and he said, ‘I’d like you to write a march for the Sesquicentennial: The First 150.’ I wrote the march and we had a contest then for people to submit words for the melody and the trio. It says ‘Three cheers for Naperville,’ but the trio was written like a school song. So you’d have… (Starts singing).”