It's been a while...
...and lots of things have happened in the last 3 months. The latest news is that all the students who took exams this term have passed and most with a Merit. I'm really pleased for all of them, from those that did their first exam to my grade 7 trombone player. The next exams are in June/July and anybody who wants to try needs to prove they are ready by the end of April. I suspect I will have a lot of students entering next term... get practising those scales!
Last month also saw the National Brass Band Championships: the biggest brass band contest in the country where every band tries for promotion up the league tables. City of Bristol Brass Band competed, playing Edward Gregson's The Plantagenets (as did every other band in the second section) and was very pleased with the performance when they came off the stage. Unfortunately it was not to be for us, being placed 7th out of 16 bands. This places us in a good position for next year's championship... but that's next year! I'm looking forward to competing with the Band again in May at the Weston-super-Mare Own Choice contest.
I have bought me a new trombone. I have been after a large bore trombone with a trigger for some time and earlier in the year I was able to get one. It plays really well and I am really happy to have it. It does mean that I now have to do my Grade 8 Trombone, as a condition set down by my wife for buying the 'bone. (The trombone is one instrument I have not done any exams on.)
Back to work on Monday for the long term that is Summer (14 weeks!). Keep practising!
It's been a good start to the year so far... Many students have practised at least once over the Christmas holidays and some have even been preparing for their exams. Six pupils have been entered: grades 1 to 7 and on cornets, a trumpet and a trombone. I will notifiy everybody of the exam dates and times as soon as I know (which should be by the middle of February).
I have been having so much fun with my new plastic trombone! It has gone down a storm with all of my students (old and young, beginner and advanced!) as well as my colleagues! This is such a great trombone for anybody, especially younger students who may not handle instruments as well as their parents would like them to and comes at a fraction of the cost of even a budget 'bone!
For more information on these fantastic instruments, visit plastictrombone.co.uk/.
I am busy preparing Edward Gregson's The Plantagenets with the City of Bristol Brass Band at the moment. The test piece will be played in Torquay on 9th March by us and 15 other bands hoping for a place in the National Brass Band Championships Finals in September and to gain promotion.
What a month, indeed! I have had exam successes, band contest succeses and new pupils. City of Bristol Brass Band have been preparing for two contests held last month, one in Ross, for the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association, and the other in Loughborough, for the Leicestershire Brass Band Association. The piece chosen for both own-choice contests was Bruce Broughton's California Legend, a challenging piece from the start! Both contests were well-fought against some decent bands but in the end City of Bristol were successful in both contest, being placed first by two different adjudicators.
The Band's Christmas concert was a great success, too with pieces from our Wychavon programme to James Bond to the odd Christmas piece or two! The Learner Band performed very well too and the final item with the combined bands was superb!
I have just received news that my 3 candidates who sat their ABRSM exams last week have all passed, two with a merit! This is really pleasing for everyone, especially as one was not feeling so well and indeed was off school the previous day!
And finallly I look forward to seeing some new pupils next term, both in schools and privately.
So, it's half term here in Gloucestershire... but not anywhere else, apparently. Good for those here - all holidays are "low season"; except I have to work. The independent schools where I'm employed are with the rest of the country with their half term next week, so tomorrow I will be back at work!
I thoroughly enjoyed the concert last Friday. Wotton Training Band's first concert without the main band was a huge success. The band played really well under Diane's baton and the audience (hopefully) learned a thing or two about some of the pieces and their composers.
The concert did lead to an invitation to help out at the main band's Poppy Proms concert on Saturday, held in Lister's Hall, Dursley (for details see their website).
I am really looking forward to next month's contests with the City of Bristol Band. We have signed some new players and only need a cornet player now. With really good odds for the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association and reasonable odds for the Leicestershire Brass Band Association (looking at the competing bands, I hagree that one will be some contest!), I am thoroughly enjoying our testpiece (and the march for the GBBA) and can't wait to put it on stage.
It was great to meet Angus and Flora last week. They came along for their first lesson with me and seemed to enjoy themselves. They are both established players and could be very fine musicians. At least Angus came back today! (Flora was on a school trip, so I'll let her off this week!)
I have also had an email today with the potential of a new school. I hope to hear back from them this week to see if we can work together, but I really hope this will be a success.
I have been invited to help out with Wotton Training Band next week (as a player). It so great to see a thriving training band, giving access to music making for children and even better to know that most of the band are my students! They are performing at St. James the Great Church, Dursley, on Friday, 19th October. Details can be found on Wotton Band's website.
I have been back at work for a couple of weeks after the summer holidays and things have settled down to a comfortable routine. I have more private students and new schools (and a revised weekly timetable!) and everything is running very smoothly (so far).
This term I have only entered three candidates for ABRSM exams, so an easier run for me, though no less easy for my students! Their exams should take place in December, but I will notify parents and student as soon as I find out. I am really looking forward to next term, as I shall get to use the new publication Shining Brass, specifically written for the exams and encompassing all instruments in the brass family except trumpet and trombone (which have only just had a new syllabus). The children who have started playing these have taken to them really well and things are looking good.
The City of Bristol Brass Band have played in a few events over the summer holiday. Most notably, we played at the Wychavon Festival of Brass entertainments contest in Droitwich. The Band, though having drawn the dreaded number one slot, didn't disgrace themselves by being placed fourth. I got to perform Another Fine Mess, the euphonium duet based on tunes used in Laurel and Hardy films and (apart from my dancing) I didn't do too badly. Next up are two own-choice test piece contests.
I finally have the bulk of my exam results through and I am really pleased to see that everyone has passed, with one pass, three merits and two distinctions! It is really encouraging to see so many students who want to do exams and succeed. I am still waiting to hear the results from 3 exams, but I would hope not to have to wait too long.
As for my ears, well, they are not entirely recovered but at least I can hear out of both of them, even if I have to pop them every now and again!
I had a very successful day last Saturday: July 7th saw the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association's 75th Anniversary Celebrations at Highnam Court, Gloucester, and I was fortunate enough to play with 3 of the 20 bands performing that day. All on trombone! I have never been to Highnam Court and played euphonium yet, in 3 visits and with 4 bands! I am really looking forard to hearing the CD of the day which is being produced at the moment.
I may yet have another opportunity to play trombone with Portishead Band in the Pershore Midsummer Brass event on 21st July. I am actually really enjoying it at the moment and I think if ever the opportunity arises in City of Bristol, I might make it a permanent thing.
I have been to visit a school in Cirencester in which I will start teaching from September. Having finished teaching at two schools (where the pupils have moved on to secondary school), it is really comforting to know that there are other opportunities for me.
After a really successful concert on Saturday with the City of Bristol Brass Band, I went back to work on Monday with a bit of a bump. I have been coughing for a couple of weeks but then yesterday I suffered hearing loss in my left ear. I visited my GP this morning: it turns out I have both chest and ear infections! I now (temporarily) have an inhaler and some antibiotics to take. I hope this is gone before the end of the week.
I have been asked to take City of Bristol's Learner Band at a Jubilee celebration at the weekend. I have worked with them before as a performer, playing in a contest and have I have taken a rehearsal too, but this will be my first outing with them with me behind the stick. We are playing on Sunday, 27th May, at St. Bonaventure's School (where the bandroom is: details on the Band's website). Let's hope I can breathe and hear by then!
So, last Wednesday saw the City of Bristol Brass Band perform at their annual Rotary Club concert and included in the programme was the comic duet Another Fine Mess! based on tunes featured in the Laurel & Hardy film Way Out West. The performance wasn't too bad at all (even the dancing!) and we'll be performing it again at our next concert in Downend (Sat, 19th May). For more info visit the Band website.
On Saturday, City of Bristol Brass Band competed against 7 other bands (including the Welsh Regional champions, Goodwick and Runners-Up Llwydcoed) in the South East Wales Brass Band Association (Ebbw Vale) contest. The rehearsal at 11.30 was a good one (most likely due to the excellent teas, coffees and bacon butties available!) but