“I had not played for a long time,” she said, referring to the time period before she joined the community band. “I was getting depressed.”
Gaines has become friends with the band’s founder, John Phillips, a recent Jacksonville State University graduate of the music department. Some time back, he approached Eric Key, director of the Calhoun County Center of the Arts, and asked if he should start a band. Key agreed to sponsor it, and he has helped the band obtain donations of sheet music and instruments.
Phillips said it is members such as Gaines that helped the band get off to a good start in June. It now has more than two dozen members.
We are fortunate to have Heather,” said Phillips. “Her enthusiasm is wonderful.”
Not only does Phillips play in the band, she juggles her time between her husband, Greg, her 10-year-old son, Alan, and her job as computer-science teacher at Sacred Heart School, but also she digitalizes all of the sheet music the band receives on loan. The process helps the sheet music’s owner can better organize it and print out extra copies. Then, she returns the digitalized version to the person who loaned it to them.
“It is a way of saying thanks,” said Phillips.
Gaines traces her love for music back to first grade when she learned to play the piano. Although, she loved the music, her hands did not cooperate. She later learned why. She has double-jointed fingers, which actually helps her play flute due to the instrument’s intricate system of keys.
While in high school, Gaines earned many medals as a competitive player, and she majored in music at JSU. While there, she performed with The Marching Southerners, and she loved every minute of it. However, when she graduated, she did not want to move away to a big city to play flute. Instead, she returned to JSU and obtained a degree in computer science – another interest of hers.
Now, whenever she can, she plugs the new band to potential new members.
“We need instrumentalists,” she said. She also states that they could use a nes bass drum, an oboe, and other instruments. The band could use financial donations, and she encourages readers to help the band by writing a check to the Cal. Co. Center for the Arts and earmarking it for the band. Mail it to 1309 7th Ave., NE, Jacksonville, AL 36265. Also, readers can visit www.calcoarts.com, and make a donation through Paypal. Call 256-364-9050 for more information.
The band has several retirees who played in a high school band when they were young, and several members of the band are former band members or band directors. They range in age from the teen years to more than 70 years. Their careers are varied, as well.
Gaines said she loves to play in the band because it is a form of escape for her.
“For a moment, I can forget I have bills, need to update a website or grade papers,” said Gaines. “It is two hours of just me doing what I like.”
Gaines said she appreciates those who started the band for players like herself, and she appreciates her supportive husband. A couple of years ago, when Gaines’ flute showed signs of aging, he surprised her with a new one.
“At the time, I didn’t play for anyone, but he knew I had to have a flute,” said Gaines.