New Horizons Band

UNI New Horizons Band RehearsalThe first New Horizons Band was started in 1991 by Professor Roy Ernst at the Eastman School of Music, New York. His philosophy was that anyone can learn to play music at a level that will bring a sense of accomplishment and the ability to perform in a group.  

​There are currently more than 200 New Horizons organizations in the United States, Canada, and Europe with many more bands, orchestras, and choruses in the planning stages.


The UNI New Horizons Band began in 1999 with 17 members and has grown to its current size of 90+ members.  This band welcomes anyone age 50 and older.  New Horizons Concert

The New Horizons Band includes beginners, those who may have previously played an instrument, who currently play an instrument, or who might like to change instruments.  The most senior members of our group are 90+ years old.  

​Band members in the UNI New Horizons Band come from Grundy Center, Waverly, Janesville, Floyd, Readlyn, Sumner, Fredericksburg, Tripoli, Dysart, Hudson, Jesup, Denver, Charles City, Maynard, Oelwein, Dike, New Hampton, Waterloo and Cedar Falls.

Diana BlakeThe New Horizons Band is directed by Diana Blake, who graduated Osceola High School (Clarke Community) in 1959.  She received a Bachelor of Music  Education degree from Drake University in 1963 and a Master of Music Education from Drake U. in 1965, and  has done additional graduate work at The University of Michigan and The University of Northern Iowa.

While completing her master’s degree, Blake taught lessons for the Des Moines Public Schools for two years.  Her first contract job began in August 1965, at Waverly-Shell Rock Community Schools teaching 6th and 7th grade band.  Over the course of 38 years, she taught band 5 through 8, junior high jazz band, lessons 5 - 12  (even taught a few bassoon lessons at Wartburg College), 9th and 10th grade band, and flags for the high  school marching band. Blake’s longest assignment was 5th grade (beginners) and 8th grade band.

​Blake has been an IBA member forever! Blake received the Philip Sehmann Excellence In Teaching Award - Elementary Level in 1996 from NEIBA. Also from NEIBA the Karl King Distinguished Service Award - Active in 1994 and 2000 and the Kart King Distinguished Service Award - Retired in 2007. She was also awarded the W-SR Friend of Education in 2014 for working with high school and junior high students at festival and contest time. Over the course of Blake’s teaching years, she has directed several honor bands.

Blake has directed the UNI New Horizons Band since May 2004. There are about 85 members (some of who are retired band directors who were her colleagues in NEIBA). As a performer, Blake has played clarinet in the Waterloo Municipal Band since 1983 and bassoon in the Cedar Falls Municipal Band since 1988. She can also be found teaching private oboe and bassoon lessons in her studio and enjoys preparing students for All-State auditions and solo festivals.


Trumpet section with UNI student teacherThe UNI New Horizons Band meets for 12 weeks in the fall and spring and for 8 weeks in the summer.  Rehearsal takes place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in Davis Hall and practice rooms in the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on the UNI Campus.  

Lessons are scheduled from 8:00-9:00 a.m. (during the school year) and full band rehearsal follows from 9:00-9:50 a.m.  Rehearsals are always followed by a social time of coffee, treats, and friendship.  Group lessons are taught by UNI music education students.

The UNI New Horizons Band is directed by retired music educator, Diana Blake.

Visitors are always welcome at rehearsals.  If you have an interest, but are not sure if this group is for you, come visit and see how much fun we have!  Contact Diana Blake to schedule a time to attend rehearsal.  Any member will be glad to tell you more about the group.




Fall Session: September 20 - December 8, 2022
  • Rehearsals: Tuesday and Thursday at 9-10am (Davis Hall) *Group Lessons for select sections at 8am (Location TBA)
  • Fall Concert: December 12, 2022 at 7:30pm (Great Hall)


Spring Session: February 7 - April 27, 2023
  • Rehearsals: Tuesday and Thursday at 9-10am (Davis Hall) *Group Lessons for select sections at 8am (Location TBA)
  • Spring Concert: May 1 at 7:30pm (Great Hall)

Summer Session: TBANew Horizons Band performing at Grundy Center, IA Court house
  • Rehearsals: Tuesday and Thursday at 9-10am (Davis Hall)
  • Performance Opportunities: TBA