Community music circle brings together musicians of all skill levels

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Tue., Aug. 23, 2011
Banjo player Max Daniels at music circle.
Banjo player Max Daniels at music circle.

For about 10 years now, a small group of area musicians has been gathering on the fourth Monday of the month for one simple reason - to enjoy making music together in the Parks and Recreation-sponsored Community Music Circle.

The Community Music Circle is the brainchild of Pete Govert, and while the location of the gathering changes from month to month, as does the lineup of musicians and the songs played, a few basic rules always apply – all of the songs must be simply arranged, and everybody is welcome.

“It’s open to anybody and everybody,” said Govert. There are no limits to the type of instrument – Govert has seen everything from banjo and guitar to electric keyboards and saxophones – and no requirements to meet a certain skill level.

This month’s music circle was held under the Lake Hayward pavilion. The musicians sit in a circle facing one another and take turns calling out a song to be played, quickly teaching the two to four chords of the song to the others.

“If it takes longer than 2 minutes [to learn], we can forget about it,” said Govert.

Then the jam begins. A quick nod of the head tells one of the musicians to take a solo, while another, usually the one choosing the song, does the singing. The others fill in as they best see fit, with some songs going for 10 minutes or more, if the solos become heated.

“What a difference it makes. It’s a lot of fun,” said Fred Raucci. A long-time guitar player, Raucci was at his first music circle on Aug. 22, and was marveling at how full the songs sound when performed by a group of musicians rather than solo, as he is used to performing.

“It enriches the whole song,” he said.

Govert has set up a website for the Community Music Circle, at, for those interested in learning more or joining the music circle. There, people can also find information on starting their own music circle, which, according to Govert, has only two requirements - a facilitator and simple songs to play.

“In a perfect world, these would be set up across the country,” he said.

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