DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - One member of the Kennedy Elementary School band in Dubuque brings a certain maturity to his playing.
That's because Tony Boland is a 79-year-old flute player.
Boland asked about joining the fifth graders in the band after volunteering at the school, which his grandchildren attended, for more than a decade. He helps children with their reading, noting he recalls struggling with his reading as a child.
He started playing the flute a number of years ago, when his wife suggested getting rid of their daughter's flute.
Boland knew that his progress would be slow unless he played with others.
"When you play alone, it's not as fast when you're playing in a band," he told the Telegraph Herald.
Band director Brian Enabnit thought Boland would make a terrific addition to the band.
"He's great. He's encouraging to the students around him," Enabnit said.
Boland practices with the students weekly and performs with them regularly, including at the Dubuque Community School District's Band Festival earlier this month.
Fifth-grade student Courtney Less has been impressed by her older classmate.
"He's kind of a more experienced player," Courtney said. "All of us are messing up, but he doesn't."