If you played an instrument in high school or later and are looking for an opportunity to play again, please join us! The information on this page should answer most of your questions. There’s a contact form at the bottom of this page.


How often does Desert Overture Perform?

Desert Overture rehearses and performs year-round. Each year, Desert Overture performs 3-4 formal concerts in venues such as Tempe Center for the Arts and John Paul Theatre. Additionally, Desert Overture marches in the Phoenix Pride parade and occasionally makes other community appearances.

The best time to join is at the start of each concert cycle, which is usually January, late March, July, and September.

What if I haven’t played in years?

No problem – that was true of almost everyone in our band when they joined. Of course you’ll need to practice outside of rehearsal, but you’ll be surprised how fast it comes back! Some people choose to take a few private lessons to refresh their skills and “get their chops back,” either before auditioning for Desert Overture or after they’ve joined, but that’s not a requirement.

What level of playing/experience do I need in order to join?

We ask that you had experience playing your instrument at least one year at the high school level (even if that was MANY years ago). You also need to be able to read music. If you are a percussionist, you must be able to read rhythms well; it’s not required that you read pitches unless you play mallet percussion or timpani.

Is there an age requirement to be a member of Desert Overture?

You must be at least 18 years old in order to join the band. We have members ranging from college students to well beyond retirement, and every age in between.

When and where does the band rehearse?

Desert Overture rehearses Thursday nights from 7:00-9:30 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1407 N. 2nd St, Phoenix (one block south of McDowell Rd. on 2nd Street).

What will I need to provide?

  • Your own instrument (talk to the Artistic Director for ideas on where you can find one)

  • All accessories required for your instrument (oil, grease, reeds, mallets/drumsticks, mutes, lyre, etc.)

  • A pencil for every rehearsal

  • Uniform (tuxedo or black dress for formal concerts, band polo shirt and hat with khaki-colored shorts or pants for less formal events at the director’s discretion)

  • Desert Overture has an inventory of some band instruments that can be loaned. Our policy for loaning instruments is that the instrument cannot leave the band’s possession until membership fees are paid. There are some other requirements as well; please talk to the Artistic Director if you’re interested in using one of Desert Overture’s instruments. Percussion instruments are provided by the band, but percussionists may need to provide some of their own mallets/drumsticks.

What is the time commitment involved in playing with Desert Overture?

You will need to attend Thursday night rehearsals weekly (except for holidays, of course!). We also expect musicians to help with some of the behind-the-scenes work that is required to keep our band operating smoothly.

If you join the band, it’s important that you attend rehearsals regularly. Even if you get to a point where you feel you know the music well, others in the group rely on having everyone there so we can work on balance, intonation, and other musical aspects of playing in a large group. Besides, rehearsal is fun and we don’t want you to miss out! If you have unavoidable work or other conflicts, please discuss them ahead of time with the Artistic Director.

Do I have to audition to be accepted into the band?

We do have a very simple audition process for new musicians. The purpose of this audition is for the Artistic Director to assess your abilities for the purposes of placement within your section, not to determine whether or not you are accepted into the band.

After you express interest in joining, our Artistic Director, Scott Helms, will contact you to schedule an audition time. For the audition, you’ll be asked to prepare two short excerpts (about 60 seconds each): one piece that’s melodic/lyrical, and one piece that’s more technical/rhythmic. You can choose whatever music you’d like for these. You will also play your choice of a concert Bb scale or a chromatic scale from your lowest to your highest comfortable notes. Don’t worry – the point of this is not to see if you know your scales, it’s to determine your comfortable range. Finally, there will be a short and VERY simple sight-reading example for you to play.

What is the cost to participate in Desert Overture?

The Musician Fee is $80 per half year, payable within the first 30 days after the first rehearsal, or 3 weeks after the first rehearsal you attend, whichever is later. You can pay by cash, check, credit card, or online via PayPal.

The Musician Fee is waived for your first half-year in the band. If you experience temporary financial hardship, Desert Overture has a Musician Fee Assistance Fund.

What’s it like to participate in Desert Overture?

We are a fun group! You will probably make many good friends in the band. Some of us meet for dinner before rehearsal each week and others go out for a drink together afterwards. And while we’re serious about making good music, we also enjoy light-hearted moments during rehearsal.

What is it about this group that keeps our members coming back? Watch these videos and find out!

Sounds great! How do I get started?

Easy – just fill out this contact form and Desert Overture’s Artistic Director, Scott Helms, will be in touch with you soon.