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79-year-old man joins elementary school band playing alongside 10-year-old children

By Mason White 6:51 PM April 15, 2014
Girl playing flute illustration 

By: Sam David
Kennedy Elementary School of Dubuque, Iowa, has a new and somewhat nontraditional band member. 79-year-old Tony Boland is the band’s most recent flautist.

Boland, whose grandchildren attend Kennedy Elementary, inquired about playing the flute alongside the school’s fifth graders after volunteering at the school.

Boland has helped children with their reading skills, something he used to struggle with, for more than 10 years. Boland began playing the instrument alone, many years ago when his wife mentioned that she was getting rid of their daughter’s flute.

He, however, knew his playing progress would be slow unless he was able to practice in the company of others. “When you play alone, it’s not as fast as you’re playing in a band,” Boland said.

Brian Enabnit, the school’s band director, thought Boland would make a great addition to the band. “He’s great. He’s encouraging to the students around him,” Enabnit said.

Boland contributes to weekly practices with the students and attends regular performances. “He’s kind of a more experienced player,” Courtney Less, a fifth-grade student said. “All of us are messing up, but he doesn’t.”