This page gives us an opportunity to introduce one of our members “up close and personal”. Our featured player this month is Julee Gilbert-Belsterling, flute.
Julee started piano and ballet at the age of 4. These two activities continued through High School at North Penn. Julee started playing clarinet in the 4th grade at North Wales Elementary. Band became her emphasis during her years at Pennbrook Junior High School and continued at North Penn High School, first with “Bolly” Thompson (who taught her father civics in the 10th grade), and then the new, young band director, Steve Frederick. It was then that marching band took off as an interest.
“My best friend, Terri (Boone) Rice (also a member of MCCB) introduced me to the wonders of Bux-Mont, District and Regional Bands where I played Bb and Eb soprano clarinet. Continuing to follow in her footsteps, I became the second female drum major at North Penn High School. All the while, choir, madrigal singers, a touring girls’ choir and accompanist duties filled in my spare time. There was also time to work at my father’s CPA firm during tax season.”
Knowing music was to be her career interest. Julee began to audition for music schools. Title 9 had not yet been passed, so West Chester was excluded because they did not allow girls in the marching band.
“Heading south to fulfill my mother’s wishes, I chose East Carolina University. After being drum major at NPHS, I was also drum major of a small drum and bugle corps, the Bux-Mont Raiders, and later with the Crossmen (DCI Finalist Drum Corps) and at East Carolina University. In addition, came the responsibilities of drill writing and teaching a marching band fundamentals class.”
Julee completed her Bachelors of Music Education degree. Julee received the Outstanding Woman Music Educator twice. She started her Masters in Conducting degree program and started a teaching career. “The love of teaching and artistically creating programs for marching bands, indoor color guards and drum and bugle corps, kept me busy traveling throughout the United States and Canada. Teaching involved anything from movement technique to full shows, developing equipment work, full show programming and leadership skills. The team involved in many of these projects were Bob Buckner, Jay Bocook, Tim Lautzenheiser, Tom Hannum, Mike Kumer and many others.”
One of the programs she worked with was North Penn. Over a period of 13 years she helped to develop the colorguard, taught marching technique, and designed and sewed costumes and props for both the outdoor and indoor seasons. Steve Frederick, still the director, provided the opportunity to work with these programs and the people associated with them, like Bobby Hoffman and Eric Kitchenman. (“I can tell you stories.”)
“After so many years ‘On the Road’, I found a dog, bought my first house in Hatfield, and got my first ‘real job’ at Lansdale Discount House. My father called it my first ‘real’ job because I punched a time clock, got paid $3.07 an hour, and got health insurance. In 1994, I met a man who was willing to give me a try, got married and moved to the mountains where I still live since my husband’s sudden death two years ago. My household is now settled at four dogs, house renovations, land clearing, and transforming the building in the meadow to a barn. That leads to the horse, the goats and the chickens.
Since music school, clarinet is now her secondary band instrument as flute has become the focus. She stays active in music through playing with the Montgomery County Concert Band, The Red Hill Band, pit orchestras for musicals and solo performances. “Music has always been the expression and communication in my life. It has allowed me to teach hundreds of thousands of young people, to enjoy the reactions of hundreds of thousands of audience members, and to experience every emotion that life can give you.”
Drum Corps led her to living in Atlanta, where she taught the colorguard for the DCI finalist Spirit of Atlanta. Indoor Guard took her from NPHS, a WGI finalist, to director of Threshold, a 3 time WGI finalist in the Open Independent group. To help provide an income, adjudicating filled in the gaps – adjudicating everything from high school contests/festivals to state championships, Bands of America since1980, indoor guard contests, Drum Corps East and Drum Corps International, where she became one of only 4 females to judge championships multiple times.