"Come as you are … you can change on the inside."

This sign in front of Church of the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Anniston is an invitation for people, all people, to enter its doors. But "changing on the inside" happens for the good where music is taught, too, especially for students playing in a band.

To be a part of Anniston High School’s band requires an instrument. But what if the student doesn’t own a trumpet, trombone, clarinet or saxophone? That’s why it’s important to donate an instrument or make a monetary donation to Anniston Musical Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports the school’s music program, including marching band, concert band and jazz band.

The Clyde Cox Instrument Fund was created by Cox’s family after his death in 2002 to ensure that students unable to afford musical instruments would be given an instrument to use while they are involved in a school’s music program.

Cox served as head of the Jacksonville State University Department of English from 1972 until he retired in 1996. He was also a very busy musician who played the piano and trombone on weekends for different groups around northeast Alabama, most often at the Victoria Inn in Anniston, according to his son, Paul Cox.

"He was always learning new tunes and songs," Paul Cox said, "He was always ready to spin a new melody. Dad also loved to share his passion with everyone."

Cox was born and raised in Corinth, Miss. He received his bachelor and masters degrees in English at City College in New York City, and his doctorate at the University of Michigan.

"His parents didn’t have much extra money," Paul said. "My grandfather worked at the mill and my grandmother took in sewing. One year, my grandmother had saved her dollars to buy a winter coat, very much needed, but instead spent the money on my father’s first trombone." Cox played the trombone from then on and was grateful to own one, according to Paul Cox.

"That was definitely the inspiration behind creating the fund," Paul said.

Now it’s time to replenish the fund. According to Reuben Mitchell, AHS band director, anyone bringing in a donated instrument will receive an appraisal for a tax credit or a receipt for a monetary donation.

"If the instrument needs repairing, we will repair it if possible," Mitchell added. There’s a need for baritones (smaller versions of a tuba), violins, violas, keyboards or any instrument, Mitchell said. "We offer a music appreciation class, and we’ve been wanting to start a string program here, even an orchestra in the next few years."

Cox’s love for music lives on at the high school; this is evident in the students’ upcoming concerts as well as marching on the field.

A band fundraiser for the Public Education Foundation of Anniston will be at Classic on Noble or Classic Two (to be determined) on April 28 at 10 a.m.

The band and choir’s spring concert will be May 9 at 6 p.m. in the Anniston High School auditorium.

Also, students in the three bands play in church programs. High school band graduates play in their respective college bands throughout the South.

Mitchell is anxious to work with any student willing to invest the time required to learn and perform. "Band participation gives them a connection to something very positive," he explained. "You can see the impact on them that it can have; it really brings about a change of heart. Once they get that taste of success, being able to play music with a small but successful band, that self-confidence carries over to other subjects they are studying."

Anyone interested in making a donation should call Mitchell at 256-453-0610.

Final performance of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

Seven area actors are in the cast for the musical "The Drowsy Chaperone," presented by CharACTers Theatrics in Gadsden. Curtain time for the final performance is 2 p.m. today. The play is presented in the Fine Arts Center in Wallace Hall on the campus of Gadsden State Community College.

Area actors in the cast are Chad Miller, Macon Prickett, Judy Shealy, Brianna Garrett, Skylar Wheat, Rebekah Payne and Cody Hays.

Set in the 1920s, the story follows two lovers on the eve of their wedding and the attempts of a carefree, alcoholic chaperone/actress to prevent them from seeing each other just before their wedding. Her actions open up some interesting scenes, according to Judy Shealy, who plays the title role.

Gangsters disguised as chefs, a best man trying to persuade the bride not to give up her career to get married, and other madcap characters round out the vocal/dancing ensemble.

The musical is rated PG. The box office, located in the lobby of Wallace Hall, will be open for general admission an hour before the performance. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.