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Ballston Spa is a community in tune

Ralph Hayes was photocopying some music at Kinko's when a fellow musician noticed him.

The man played the trumpet in the Ballston Spa Community Band. He encouraged Hayes to check the group out.

In a matter of days, Hayes was one of the group's newest members. His story seems to be a common one among band members they find the group almost by accident, but once they do, they get great joy from it.

I feel so energized after playing a concert," said flutist Sue Reider, who joined the band after her husband had belonged for a few years. "I like playing music to make people smile."

The multi-generational band will share that energy on Thursday, July 1, with a free concert at Wiswall Park in Ballston Spa. Marches, Broadway tunes and more are slated for the 6 p.m. show. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

For Hayes, a music composer and professor at The College of Saint Rose, one of the lures of the band is that most of the other members don't make music their livelihood. He's seen too many professional musicians who "might as well be working on an assembly line," he said.

The community band, by contrast, is full of people who are passionate about music. That's especially true of the director, Tracy DeRagon, Hayes said, calling her "incredibly dedicated."

"For her to dedicate her time to us, it's a tremendous gift," he said.

Hayes has been dedicating his own time to making music since he was just a kid. He was 8 when he started playing the saxophone. A music major in college, he picked up several other instruments, including the oboe, flute, clarinet and piano. While he chiefly plays oboe with the community band, the group sometimes breaks into smaller groups for fundraisers, and Hayes has a chance to play one of his other instruments.

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