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Family shares passion for community band

At the conclusion of the 2012 Bemidji Area Community Band concert, the Schnackenberg family is shown on the green outside of Bangsberg Fine and Performing Arts Complex on the campus of Bemidji State University. From the left: Daniel, Aaron and Kiki. Patt Rall | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - There could not have been a better night last Sunday for the final concert of the Bemidji Area Community Band and one of their players.

In memory of former BACB saxophone player Don MacKinnon, the band played "In the Miller Mood" arranged by Warren Barker.

MacKinnon's family donated the funds to purchase the sheet music for the band and they stood together at the conclusion of the piece.

"Dad would have been so pleased," said Christine Zukeran, one of MacKinnon's daughters.

One of the younger musicians in the band was also pleased. Aaron Schnackenberg, a saxophone player, won a Bemidji Area Church Musicians scholarship last year.

Due to scheduling conflicts, Aaron was unable to attend the rehearsals for this concert so he did not play for the final concert of the season.

While Aaron was not there to perform, he was there to support his younger brother, Daniel, who plays trumpet in the band.

"I play with the band mainly for Daniel," said his older brother. "He has a lot to learn and it's good for him to see us contributing to the group."

The "us" Aaron is referring to is Kiki Schnackenberg, who plays flute and is the mother of the two young players.

"It's a family activity that we can enjoy together," Kiki said. "My daughter Katrina Stewart played the flute and piccolo with the band as well, but not this year."

Kiki and her children have a lengthy music education background dating to when Aaron was just 3 years old. All of her children started with the piano and then switched to instruments of their choice as they got older.

Aaron, who spent his freshman year of college at Concordia College, said college was a lot harder than he expected. He will transfer to the University of Minnesota for his second year and hopes to study jazz. A bass and guitar player, Aaron realizes that he will be starting an arduous study period as jazz is actually composing on the spot along with the sight reading.

Or as Aaron likes to say, "Jazz is freedom!"

Daniel, 13, will be entering the eighth grade at Minnesota Virtual Academy, an online school.

He said he likes playing with different age groups because they have more experience and give good advice.

When asked if he likes playing with his mother, Daniel said it is good for him because she supplies the ride to rehearsals and concerts. Those rides also apply to rehearsals for the Bemidji Boy Choir, an ensemble directed at Bemidji High School with Chris Fettig.

Kiki also plays with the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra and the Symphonic Band at Bemidji State University. She will be sharing another part of her life with daughter Katrina starting this fall. Both mother and daughter will be studying for their degrees at BSU, with Kiki studying business administration.

Kiki said "feeding one's soul" with music or some other art form is essential for children. That does not exclude sports; she was quick to add, as that is also important for young people. But it is in the sharing of your talents with others, such as being players in the community band, is what gives meaning to life, she said.