Moonlight serenade / Linscheid plays with Glenn Miller Orchestra

Bethel College instructor of music and director of jazz studies Joel Linscheid played with The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra for a year.

Many things can raise memories from the subconscious ? a familiar smell, the touch of a loved one and even songs.

For some, music performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra can invoke memories and emotions from days gone by.

?I?m (an) 88-year-old World War II vet,? Bill Janson wrote on YouTube in the comments section for the band?s ?Moonlight Serenade.? ?Playing it brings tears to my eyes.?

?I love this song,? Olivia Martinez wrote on YouTube. ?It reminds me of when I was a little younger, my dad would play this in the mornings and the night, and I loved it.?

For about a year, Bethel College instructor Joel Linscheid was a part of bringing memory-invoking smooth melodies to the public, since he was a member of The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra.

?It was neat to be a part of,? the 2009 Bethel College graduate said. ?I?m glad I did it and (am) grateful for the experience. It was beneficial to me both musically and professionally.?

In addition to ?Moonlight Serenade,? the original band?s repertoire included ?Tuxedo Junction,? ?Sunrise Seranade,? ?Strings of Pearls? and ?The Lady?s in Love with You.? Glenn Miller?s orchestra formed in the 1930s, according to, and the current The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra was created in 1956. Since then, the group has toured consistently and is the only big band left that tours full time. Glenn Miller himself died Dec. 15, 1944, after boarding a transport plane. What happened to Miller is a mystery, as neither the plane nor Miller were ever found, according to

Just like the people commenting on YouTube, Linscheid said audiences really liked the music they performed.\

?The reactions were overwhelmingly positive, especially from the generation of people that grew up with this music,? Linscheid said. ?Many of the older audience members had a clear sentimentality about the music and an emotional connection to it. There was smiling, crying, people getting up and dancing in the wings or aisles ? and frequently an audible response from the audience when we began a song they knew. I had a few folks tell me that they had seen Glenn Miller perform live before he died and how many great memories the music brought back.?

Linscheid, a 2004 Newton High School graduate, auditioned for and joined the band in January 2012.

?It was just a taped audition,? he said. ?? The tape gets you there. The first couple weeks with the band is the real audition. ? Once you get out there, you have to prove you can actually do it.?

A couple of the guys were asked not to stay, Linschied said. That decision is up to the section leader, but the band leader weighs in on it. Linscheid learned about the auditions from a friend who had been in the band, and Linscheid sent in a variety of tunes.

Linscheid stayed with the band from February 2012 to February 2013, he said, and probably took part in 300 performances in a variety of venues. While in the band, Linscheid played the tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet.

Most of what they played were original GMO tunes from the 1930s and ?40s, although they also performed Frank Sinatra melodies from the 1950s and 1960s.

?Most of the music was from the Glenn Miller songbook ? what they would have played when he was alive,? Linscheid said.

Linscheid?s favorite songs from the playlist included some of Miller?s hits, and they played those so often, he said it was nice to play something more obscure. When they performed at dances, they played for longer than they did for performances, so they had to dig deeper into their repertoire. The band also recorded a CD, ?In the Mood,? in January 2013, of which Linscheid took part.

?It?s all good music,? Linscheid said about his time with the band. ?I didn?t get tired of the musical aspect of the gig.?

What did tire Linscheid was the travel.

?That?s the exhausting part of it ? it?s not the music,? he said. ?? It?s a routine of irregularity. That?s the part that after some time became tiresome.?

Life on the road definitely is different than having an 8 to 5 job and then going home at night. On the road, there were no regular routines nor any kitchen in which to cook. Linscheid said band members are welcome to stay in the band as long as they wish, but most only are in it for a year; there?s quite a bit of turnover with people his age.

?We played a lot of small-town theaters and high schools,? Linscheid said. ?It was kinda neat to see different parts of the country that weren?t destinations.?

The band also played a month each in Quebec in Canada and Japan.

?Some of the venues in Quebec were really nice,? Linscheid said, adding about Japan, ?Those were larger venues, so that was really neat.?

North Newton native Joel Linscheid, left, performs with The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. Courtesy photo.

He also enjoyed playing at the Orpheum in Wichita, where friends and family came to see him play. In addition, Linscheid connected with friends and family in various parts of the States throughout his travels.

?So that was fun,? Linscheid said.

While in San Francisco, the orchestra entertained on an aircraft carrier. They also performed with symphonies, such as those in Indianapolis and Buffalo.

?It?s always fun to have different venues,? Linscheid said.

Musically, the road band experience holds an important part in jazz history ? performing with the same people every night at a high level, Linscheid said.

?It?s neat to be able to have that experience because there?s not that many big bands or jazz bands where you can have that kind of experience,? Linscheid said. ?You learn what it takes musically to perform at a high level every night and also psychologically for what it takes to concentrate and focus on the music.?

He added the audience doesn?t know or care if you drove 800 miles that day ? they just want the music.

This experience helped the Bethel College jazz director and saxophone instructor.

?You still have to give them the same high-quality performance,? Linscheid said. ?? I think I grew in terms of having to play every night ? it was just a good thing. I certainly learned stylistically about that kind of music.?

Linscheid played tenor and alto sax, as well as a little flute and clarinet in high school. He took on the alto sax in the fifth grade and switched to tenor in the eighth.

While at Bethel, from fall 2004-spring 2009, he majored in music and earned his music education certification. Two years later, he received a master?s degree in jazz performance and pedagogy from the University of Colorado. During his last year at CU and the fall after graduation, he taught jazz history at CU-Boulder. Also after graduation, he was a freelance player in Denver.

One of Linscheid?s biggest influences in music, he said, was being surrounded by his brother, Aaron, and friends who were interested in music, and jazz in particular. He said it was great to have his brother, a trumpet player who now performs in Kansas City, fellow sax player Brett Jackson and trombonist Andy Toews, as well as many others, provide competition and collaboration in his music formative years.

He, his brother, Jackson and Toews would hang out during their high school years and play music. All were in jazz bands together in high school and at Bethel.

Also, listening to the Count Basie Orchestra perform at Bethel when he was a freshmen fueled his love of music.

?I think there were some early-on performances we went to that were exciting,? Linscheid said.

He also said he was fortunate to have great saxophone teachers early on in his music education that helped him become a good player. Those instructors were Tom Luer, Steve Jones and Jim Pisano. And all three of them worked in the same position Linscheid has filled the past two years at Bethel College for Pisano, since Pisano was on a two-year sabbatical getting his doctorate in jazz performance.

Jones, Luer and Pisano were inspirational as instructors and musicians, Linscheid said.

?It?s been neat for me to be teaching those things in this position,? Linscheid said.

Article and photos Wendy Nugent


0 replies on “Moonlight serenade / Linscheid plays with Glenn Miller Orchestra”