HCCB gives musicians of all levels a place to practice, play, and perform

Sometimes, when she’s having a hard week, the last thing Jennifer Godwin wants to do after work is drive from Dripping Springs to Wimberley for band practice. But the trumpet player says that once she’s there, creating music with the group, she experiences an endorphin-filled flow state that keeps her coming back, week after week, year after year.

“Suddenly everything falls together and you just feel it,” she says. “It’s joy!”

Jennifer’s experience as a member of the Hill Country Community Band isn’t unique. Though band president Les Tucker doesn’t describe the feeling in the same mystical terms as Jennifer, he’s known to say, “When it sounds good, it’s fun.”

The 50 or so other members of the HCCB, ranging in age from 18 to 80-something, must also feel the magic—because they also keep coming back for more. During its 26 years, the all-volunteer wind band has rehearsed weekly and performed four or five concerts each year, all free to the public.

Most members grew up playing in their school band and share the experience of camaraderie with a purpose. What they don’t miss is getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning to march in the rain or cold, some carrying a heavy tuba or bass drum. “There is no marching in this band,” Jennifer emphasizes with a laugh. “We have done our time!”

A few of those members have been playing with the band since it began as the Wimberley Community Band in 1990. As players flocked in from Buda, Kyle, Dripping Springs, and even Austin, the name was changed to reflect the more geographically diverse membership.

All band members volunteer their time while the band director receives a small stipend for the many hours spent arranging music, leading rehearsals, and directing performances. “Band directors are a special breed of folk—they really have to give of themselves. By grace we’ve found them,” Jennifer claims, referring to current director James Malik and his predecessor, former director Al Corley, who still occasionally substitutes as director.

Members’ musical backgrounds range from amateur to professional, though everyone improves their craft from playing with the band, Jennifer says. The selection of music runs from classical arrangements to Broadway musicals and pop music. The most recent concert featured a piece titled “A Renaissance Revel: Greatest Dance Hits of the 1500s.”

Jennifer’s favorite part of being in the band is playing at practices, though she acknowledges that the pressure of an impending performance does give the group a goal, an endpoint to work toward. Their audiences, composed of family members, Wimberley residents, former band members, and music lovers of all stripes, show up in numbers for their two Fourth of July concerts (including one combined with the Wimberley Community Chorus), one or two annual fall concerts (combined with the Wallace Middle School Band), a concert in February, and a performance at the Texas Music Festival in April.

When she began playing in the HCCB back in 1995, Jennifer was a mother of two young children and working a fulltime job. The one night a week she devoted to band practice was “my thing just for me,” she remembers. Though it involved getting together with a large group, the self-professed introvert feels that playing in the band is a very personal experience she “just needed to have other people involved in order to do.”

Jennifer still feels that band practice is her time for herself—with other people. “It gives me a lot more than I give it,” she says.

The Hill Country Community Band welcomes new members. The group rehearses on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 at the Chapel in the Hills in Wimberley. Donations to the band are also welcome. For more information, e-mail hillcountrycommunityband@gmail.com or visit www.hillcountrycommunityband.org. Follow the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Hill-Country-Community-Band-313464780761.

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