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East Hillsborough Community Band plays for the love of music

Published Jun. 21, 2012

For any former middle school or high school band student, it's a scene that allows them to travel back to practices of the past.

The clinking of metal music stands being assembled, the rustle of music sheets being flipped through and organized, the sight of clarinet players holding their reeds between their lips, and the sounds of woodwinds, brass, and percussion being tuned.

In reality, it's the Eastern Hillsborough Community Band's weekly practice at First United Methodist Church in Brandon. Every Thursday night, the group of former high school band students, professional musicians and those who simply play for fun spends two hours embracing their love of music and enthusiasm for playing in an ensemble.

That love and enthusiasm is reflected in the band's mission statement: "provide an opportunity for musicians of all ages and skill levels to perform with a concert band and to foster the development of musicians who wish to make a cultural contribution to their community."

One such contribution is approaching as the band prepares for its patriotic music concert at 7 p.m. Thursday at the church. Tickets are $5 at the door.

The band was started three years ago by four men who simply wanted to have fun and play music together, including Tom Nelson, who serves as the organization's president.

"We were just four friends who loved to play," Nelson said.

Since then, the band has grown to nearly 50 members consisting of adults of all ages.

Clarinet player Darryl Bayley, has been with the band since it started and said it has grown by word of mouth.

"We are just a bunch of ex-musicians who used to play gigs and now just want to play for the fun and love of music," Bayley said.

"It is just a fun way of playing," added clarinet player Melissa Neitzal.

John Sinibaldi serves as the band's conductor. His wife plays in the percussion section, his daughter plays baritone, and he is a Hillsborough County band teacher. As a conductor, he expressed that one of the biggest challenges is finding music which he calls "literature," selections that are fun and also challenging for everyone to play.

"We want to share what we love with the community: beautiful music," Sinibaldi said when asked about how he sees the band growing in the community.

The concert, entitled "American Pride," consists of nine patriotic songs, including three sing-alongs, and a salute to the military.

The East Hillsborough Community Band is a group that enjoys making music, for its members and for others. "It is just a fun way of playing," clarinet player Melissa Neitzal says. The band hosts a concert of patriotic songs Thursday. Story, Page 13.