Music Offerings

Band performance

Northland offers several music lecture courses that are geared for the non-music major. The four lecture courses currently offered provide a broad view of the musical past in the US and abroad and include Musical Experience, Rock History, Jazz History, and World Music.

Musical Experience is an introductory course, which gets students talking about music and learning some of the terms that musicians use. It gives a very broad view of the ways music is used by people from many time periods and around the globe. Rock History and Jazz History both consider their musical styles in the context of what was occurring in our country at various times and how the music represents society and societal changes or upheavals. World Music exposes students to the unique music and exciting cultures of Peru, Caribbean, Indonesia, China, Japan, India, some Eastern European groups, and a few of the many cultural groups found in Africa.

In addition to the lecture-based courses, the Northland Music Department also offers other courses depending on student needs or interests in Digital Music Media, Music Fundamentals (the basics of reading and understanding written music), and Classroom Music Skills.

Current Music Offerings

The Northland Community Band became part of Northland State Junior College in 1972 and has remained a vital part of our student activities and beloved part of our community since then. The ensemble’s history actually dates back to the summer of 1912 and began as the Thief River Falls City Band. It has had many names over the years depending on who has supported it, and we are proud to say that the ensemble has celebrated over 45 years as part of Northland.

Membership in the band is comprised of a group of 30-45 members who represent a wide spectrum of educational and professional backgrounds including many area music instructors and students from Northland Community and Technical College and area high schools. The presence of adults making music is a living inspiration for younger members in the band and has been effective in bridging the generation gap.

Rehearsals are held each Monday evening at NCTC lasting two full hours with a fifteen-minute conversation/refreshment break. The two primary concerts for this group are the Fall Band Concert, in November, and the Spring Concert in May. The Fall Concert is typically performed in conjunction with the High School Honor Band. The Spring Concert has been held at a variety of locations including local outdoors venues. Admission fees for events support the Northwest Minnesota Community Bands, which is a non-profit group that supports the Northland Community Band as well as its sister organization, the Northern Jazz.

The band has engaged in other events outside the Fall and Spring Concerts and has appeared at the Minnesota Music Educators Convention and the Minnesota Community Band Festival. In the summer of 1990, an extensive European Tour included appearances at the American Music Festival in Graz, Austria. And in 1998 the band was selected by taped audition to represent the USA in its division at the Sydney Music Festival in Australia. In 2005, the Northland Community Band traveled to England and Ireland with 43 performing members. Three years later in 2008, a group traveled to Peru as witnesses to a very unique culture and visited many sites including Lima, Cuzco, Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca, and Machu Picchu. Although the overseas trips are fun, we also routinely travel to Minneapolis or Winnipeg to watch a variety of productions, based on student and community interest.

Mission Statement

The Northland Community Band is dedicated to encouraging community amateur musicianship, supporting music education in Northwest Minnesota, and stimulating the appreciation of band music by providing locally accessible concerts for the people in our region.

Vision Statement

The Northland Community Band, dedicated to creating an ensemble that is comprised of members from all walks of life, with diverse backgrounds and experiences and ranging in age from teenagers to octogenarians, provides a special, challenging musical opportunity in a social atmosphere and performs quality music for Northwest Minnesota audiences.

Although the Northern Jazz is not a Northland ensemble, they do use the space at the college for rehearsal and join other Northland ensembles for performances. Our ensemble is a full jazz stage band with 5 saxophones, 4 trombones, 4 trumpets and a full rhythm section including guitar, piano, bass, drums, and vibraphone. Our members, like the NCB, come from the NW corner of Minnesota and are not music professionals but community members and Northland students.

Northern Jazz has two primary seasons: winter and summer. Northern Jazz rehearses on Monday evenings for 2 hours from November to March in preparation for our annual Winter Merriment Concert. This performance usually has a theme to it. Some of the past themes have been The Blues, Swing Kings, Lawrence Welk, Country, Music of the 60s, Horn Bands of the 70s, and Latin American. This event typically has an entrance fee, as food is included.

NJ also plays extensively during the summer months with a few occasional rehearsals. Our summer stops have included events like Thief River Falls’ RiverFest, Goosefest in Middle River, Moosefest in Karlstad, Movie in the Park in TRF, and parades in Erskine, Fertile, and TRF.

Both the Northland Community Band and the Northern Jazz are supported by a non-profit organization founded in 2011 to support area performance groups, the Northwest Minnesota Community Bands. It is a 501c3 and can accept tax-deductible donations to support the activities these groups and others present above and beyond the expectations of the classes offered through Northland. Regular board meetings are held to determine the activities of the groups, especially during the summer months. We are always looking for volunteers for events to sell tickets at the door and pass out programs as well as technical aspects of running the lights and recording the concerts.

If you are interested in assisting the group or supporting it through donations, you can contact Linda Samuelson at or by calling 218-683-8717.

The Chamber Choir is a non-auditioned ensemble that is primarily populated by Northland students, as it rehearses during the day, generally at noon either 2 or 3 days a week. The choir hosts the annual High School Honor Choir Festival, a large choir formed solely of local high school students, which meets at Northland for a day of learning and rehearsing with a performance that evening. The Choir Concert generally features performances by the Northland Choir and the High School Honor Choir, but sometimes there are specialty groups, soloists, or Northern Jazz. The Winter Merriment Concert, a pops concert, is routinely shared between the Northern Jazz and the Chamber Choir, whereas the Spring Concert in May is typically shared with the NCB and the Chamber Choir and sometimes the Northern Jazz too.

Northland Music Department has had a variety of other ensembles depending on the needs and desires of our student community. The music department has presented several Madrigal Dinners or May Day-themed concerts featuring music from the Renaissance era, which boasted choral groups, vocal and instrumental soloists, recorder ensembles, and brass groups. Other hands-on learning and performance opportunities include: private lesson or instrument lessons, group guitar lessons, and a world drum group.

We occasionally offer the opportunity for students to perform in a musical as well. Some of the shows Northland has presented include Little Shop of Horrors, All Shook Up (a jukebox musical featuring the music of Elvis), Blues in the Night, Honk, Breaking up is Hard to Do (featuring the music of Neil Sedaka), Pippin, Radio Gals, and most recently in 2017, Cinderella: The Musical.

Northland hosts two separate annual events that bring some of the top singers from the region to our Thief River Falls campus. Both events happen in the fall, generally in November, and bring 70 to 120 students for each ensemble.

The High School Honor Choir has seen as many as 120 students from 13 area high schools gathered in the Northland Theatre for a day of rehearsal before the evening concert where the ensemble fills the Northland stage. Some years there is a smaller ensemble of closer to 70 that is accepted, as the Northern Jazz accompanies it, and as such, the music is popular or jazz based.

The High School Honor Band has seen consistent numbers in the 90s for several years and usually sees students from over a dozen area high schools. After the directors nominate the students, the host coordinator creates a complete ensemble and pushes the limits of the Northland stage by accepting as many as 95 students.

The concerts at each of these events happen the same evening as the rehearsals at which the Honor High School Ensemble shares the concert billing with at least one other Northland Ensemble where students have the valuable opportunity of experiencing life-long learning in action.