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East County Friday, Feb. 8, 2019 5 months ago

Come join the Manatee Community Concert Band

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Lakewood Ranch residents among those who enjoy a renewed musical career.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

After Clint Maxim, who is now 75, retired in 2001, he began to talk to his wife, Olivia, about the possibility of learning to play the saxophone.

Maxim had been a musician in his early life, playing the trumpet and the French horn. But he always had liked the sound of the saxophone and, well, he had time on his hands.

Meanwhile, his wife had discovered online shopping and whenever a family member started to talk about something they wanted, Maxim said it would just show up.

So he couldn't have been too surprised when one day a saxophone arrived at his Summerfield home.

Still, the saxophone remained in its case as Maxim wasn't quite ready.

"She may have thought I would fiddle with it," he said.

Unfortunately, Olivia died in 2006.

Soon after his wife's death, Maxim did open that case, and he set out to learn the instrument she had purchased for him.

By 2008, he decided to sign up with the Manatee Community Concert Band.

"The band was smaller scale than it is now," Maxim said as he thought back to those first days with the band. "I remembered asking, 'Do I need to audition?' I was told, 'If you can sit up and hold an instrument, you're OK.' I certainly wasn't very good.

"I can't say I am good now."

More than 10 years after he joined, Maxim is now a band board member.

He understands there are those in the county who might be a little hesitant to pick up an instrument that has been collecting dust for years. A certain fear factor might exist when it comes to joining a community band.

"You have to face (your fear)," he said. "Give it a try. Everyone here is nice. Everyone here makes mistakes. I've made a good number of friends."

The band has approximately 55 to 60 members during season and about 35 members all year long. Maxim said the members range from former professionals, to semiprofessionals, to music teachers to hobbyists.

"I am a hobbyist," he said.

For him, the band puts him in a healthy state of mind.

"You forget about whatever else is going on, because you need to have your mind on what you are doing," he said. "And we do make good music."

Lakewood Ranch's Clint Maxim joined the Manatee Community Concert Band after years of not picking up an instrument.

Lakewood Ranch's Erv Hyde will be playing the clarinet when the Manatee Community Concert Band presents its Winter Concert 7 p.m., Feb. 24 at Southeast High School in Bradenton.

"It's always fun to make music," said Hyde, whose wife Mary K., is in the audience for all of his concerts. "It's more fun to make music for other people. When we play these concerts, the audience always is smiling. We make people happy."

Hyde, 78, has been smiling since he restarted his music career by joining the community band.

"I retired at 65, so it was time to get back into it," he said. "Anyone who is thinking about joining our band, I would say, 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Give it a try.'

'We have a lot of talented people who have stories like me."

Hyde began playing the summer before he entered the fourth grade. "I started on the clarinet," he said. "I was 9, and my parents were fans of Benny Goodman. They said 'Why don't you play the sax?' But the clarinet was something they had available at the summer elementary school program. So I played clarinet."

He remembered his parents making sure he would be serious if he wanted to become a musician.

"Some discipline went with it," he said with a laugh. "My mom (Helen Hyde), I believe she had a whip. But the older I got, the better I got, and the more fun I had."

In 1967, Hyde graduated from college and he became an Air Force pilot in Vietnam. When he finished his duty five years later, he married Mary K. and had three kids. The clarinet was stored away.

"I had to be a dad," he said.

After his kids were grown, he started playing at times for community bands. Eventually, he landed with the Manatee Community Concert Band.

"We have a pretty good cross section of people," he said. "Last year I sat next to a college student. That was fun. And we play a wide variety of music that all is pretty much fun to play."

For those thinking about joining the band after being inactive in music for years, Hyde said, "You have to make yourself current, your fingerings, your tone."

But he said the members of the band don't judge each other.

"The idea is to blend together as a group," he said.

Mary K. Hyde said the Manatee Community Concert Band has been a healthy activity for her husband.

"It's good for his brain," she said. "You know, obligation is not necessarily a dirty word. And there is a social aspect. Plus, I enjoy the concerts."

Jason Winetraub is the acting director for the band and he hopes to be considered for the job as band director, which now is open.

"There is no formal audition process for this band," he said. "You can join if you have an instrument and a pulse. If someone joins and they can't do it, they don't stay very long."

He noted a lot of seasonal visitors to the area contribute to the band so if someone wants to participate in only one or two concerts a year, that is allowed.

"We try to make everything as inclusive and pleasant as possible," he said.

Winetraub said while many seniors make up the band, young musicians always are welcome, such as high schoolers who need experience."

The band holds practice sessions on Tuesday nights at Southeast High School. Four or five major concerts are scheduled each year along with other smaller performances.

Sometimes the band can have an overload of clarinets, for example, or a lack of percussionists. But that is OK.

"We play with what we get," Winetraub said.

He said those who attend the concerts will discover the band doesn't have just a few talented musicians.

"We have a lot of talent," he said.

Among those musicians is Maxim, who downplays his abilities.

"I am sure I have gotten better," Maxim said. "One of the keys to playing in front of an audience is nerves. I've gotten more used to it."

The gift from his wife has paid off.

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