The London Marathon (and my part in the Milton Keynes Marathon)

imageIt’s that time of year again. An oversized teddy bear, a 6 foot Walt Disney princess dressed in pink, an NHS nurse with hairy legs, tattooed arms and a six-pack, a wobbly telephone box and a Star Wars trooper, all mixed in a sea of seriously focussed runners who have been training for months and working hard to raise as much money as possible for their chosen charity. It’s an awesome sight and it takes over central London for the day. It attract thousands upon thousands of loyal family members and friends who charge around the course as best they can to catch a few fleeting glimpses of their loved ones running, walking, staggering, hobbling toward the finish line accompanied by the adulation of the enthusiastic crowd.


For an amateur runner there can be no other experience like it. A test of endurance, a public display of grit and determination and – judging by the atmosphere of the day – a sense of common purpose, community and a natural expectation that we, in our tens of thousands, support and cheer everyone. Most runners had their names printed on their vests. We shouted for Dave, Peter, Rachel, Fatso, Tina, Muhammed, Randy, Brian, Andy and screamed our encouragement, hoping to inspire these strangers to achieve the experience of a lifetime.

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People talked to each other. We laughed and swapped stories on the tube. A young woman showed enterprise by making wonderful bacon rolls and coffee at the bottom of her garden for a third of the price of Starbucks, probably much better too. We saw the best of everyone and we were generous, polite and appreciative in return.

My daughter Olivia was there. She had trained for months, religiously sticking to her personal plan, and looked cool in her orange top and Rayban sunglasses. She seemingly made light work of the 26 miles but perhaps Monday morning will tell a different story. We tube-hopped around the course to see her run culminating in an emotional hug for Wendy, her mum, 750m from the finishing line at Parliament Square, Westminster. An intimate, personal moment that was probably replicated hundred of times over as these heroic runners recognised a familiar face amongst the sea of anonymity that cheered them on.


The scale of the event is enormous and, when it comes to these global sporting events, we Brits seem to do these things rather well. I thought I’d read up a little about the London Marathon itself. I was staggered at the scale of the organisation and the sums it raises for good causes.






The company that organises the London Marathon is London Marathon Events Ltd owned by The London Marathon Charitable Trust. Aside from the London Marathon, London Marathon Events Ltd organises quite a few other sporting events including Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon, Vitality London 10,000, Vitality Westminster Mile, Standard Chartered Great City Race and Prudential RideLondon. Its income comes from sponsorship, marketing, advertising, entry fees and television rights and the good news is that 100 per cent of its profits is handed to the Trust which awards grants to leisure projects in London and other areas where London Marathon Events Ltd stages events.


At £5.2 million, the profit from the London Marathon tops any other marathon in the world with runners in last year’s London Marathon raising more than £54 million for their own personal-choice charities. Since its inception in 1981, the London Marathon has raised more than £57 million and the runners themselves have raised in excess of £770 million. That’s a huge amount of money going to good causes!


The same positive atmosphere gripped the country during the London Olympics in 2012. It’s an essential side effect of sport, music or indeed any community-based project, that impacts on the human psyche and generates warmth and generosity within us. Of course the success of any event is linked to our impression of it – had British athletes not had their most successful Olympics in 104 years coming third in the medals table it may not have received such a positive response by the general public. Or if most of the runners at the London Marathon failed to achieve their target of completing the full distance then perhaps the general mood would have been rather more gloomy.


Certainly the sense of achievement the London Marathon runners will feel having set their training targets and painstakingly worked their way through them will be immense. As supporters we recognised this dedication and perseverance and willingly bonded with strangers fleetingly as they ran by, personalising their individual achievement by calling their name and sharing in their success.


I’ve never run a marathon but the LMP Relay Marathon Teams who are participating in the Milton Keynes Marathon on May 2nd will certainly have set their targets and, individually, will be nervously hoping that they can play their part in completing the 26 miles, 365 yards to the finish line. You can read how I ‘volunteered’ to be part of the team here:


Apart from completing the arduous course, part of our goal is to raise essential funds for the orchestra’s charity, London Mozart Players Trust. We’ve set ourselves the task of training for the event, raising £5000 on the way, to support the orchestras initiatives. We’re getting close – if you can be part of our team by supporting our efforts then all our early morning runs will be worth it! We have an LMP Team Just Giving webpage so spare a thought for us next Monday as we give of our best and try and emulate the success of those incredible personal achievements that took place a week earlier in London.

Milton Keynes Marathon vs Me

So…..this is how it happened….

A few months ago our lovely LMP office people – all young, fit, healthy-types, decided to do a fundraiser for the orchestra:

Me: ‘Great idea! What have you in mind?’
Fit-healthy-type 1: ‘Let’s do a marathon! It’ll keep us fit and help us raise money for our projects’
Me: ‘Brilliant! Go for it!’
Fit-heathy-type 2: ‘Yeah, we can have two teams, those that want to do the whole thing and we can have a relay teams of 4 runners!’
Me: ‘Brilliant! Go for it!’
Fit-healthy-type 3: ‘Fantastic! I’ll do the whole marathon, I’ll start training tonight! It’ll be great fun. There’s be loads of players from the orchestra who will join the relay team!
Me: ‘Brilliant! Go for it!’
Fit-healthy-type 4: I’d love to do it. We’ll have enough for two teams at least – Jenny, Julia, Sara, Paul…
Me: ‘Err…what’s that…?
Fit-healthy-type 3: …oh yeah, and Robert, Ann, Sarah too…
Me: But….
Fit-healthy-type 2: This is sounding great! So impressed you’re up for this Paul. It really sends a positive message about the orchestra.
Me: But…
Fit-healthy-type 1: Wow Paul, I didn’t have you down as a runner! I’m so impressed!
Me: But I’m….
Fit-healthy-type 2: Great! We’re sorted. I’ll register us straightaway. It’ll be such fun and we’ll be raising money for a really good cause. Who wouldn’t want to do this…?
Me: Err…yeah….right…great…sounds fun….kind of….

So with steely resolve and gritted determination I willingly join the LMP Marathon Team. Over the last three months I’ve been training relentlessly..well, a few hours a week… I can do this I tell myself. I can do this…


The saying goes that the hardest part of any run putting your trainers on. No way! As I’ve spent my spare time pacing the tramac, early morning starts, buying that new expensive running gear, I reckon putting a pair of smelly old trainers is the easy bit!  But hey, it’s a great way to get fit so I’ve been told and I’ve signed up for it so let’s do this!

So…there’s a week to go. I’m looking mean, lean and determined. The six-pack is rippling. I’m up for a PB. Bring it on. It’s MK Marathon vs Me. Gulp…


Here’s the story….

On 2nd May 2016, 10 members of the LMP will be taking part in the Milton Keynes Marathon to raise money for the orchestra. We’re taking this seriously. We have ambitious aims of raising £5,000 to help sustain the LMP’s ongoing work in the community, education and on the concert platform. We’re enthusiastic and we’ve pledged to complete the race. We’re not going to mess around with this. We’re all extremely passionate about the work we do with the LMP and this marathon is just one part of the team’s ongoing commitment to helping shape the orchestra’s future.


Our runners are all from the LMP team

Full Marathon Runners
Michael Posner Viola
Cat Fuller Marketing Manager

Relay Marathon Runners
Jenny Brady Education Coordinator
Julia Desbruslais Executive Director & Co-Principal Cello
Sarah Posner Junior Blogger
Sara Gale Operations Assistant

Paul Archibald Principal Trumpet & LMP Chairman
Clare Hoffman Violin
Robert Manasse Flute
Ann Criscuolo Violin

It would be great if you could show all our runners support and help push them past the finish line by visiting the LMP Team Just Giving webpage

Any donations, small or large, are greatly appreciated. Your donation is really important to us. Join our team and we’ll keep you updated as to how we’re doing. For more information go to: LMP Team Runners

Mozart / Stephen Oliver – Goose of Cairo

The Goose of Cairo – what a ridiculous name for an opera – and what a ridiculous plot it turned out to be even by operatic standards! Stephen Oliver’s completion of Mozart’s unfinished opera The Goose of Cairo (L’oca del Caïro) received its British premiere by the London Mozart Players and guests on Thursday 14th April 2016 at St John’s Smith Square conducted by the David Parry.


The plot has Don Pippo as a collector of rarities. His wife had disappeared and was assumed dead but to ensure that his daughter might not disappear in the same way, he has locked her up in a tower with another girl for company. In true operatic style both girls have lovers and Don Pippo has a bet with the men that they can’t get the girls out within a year. On the last day of the year matters are complicated by another proposal his daughter has from a stranger, Count Lionetto. Pippo wants her to accept, because Lionetto is offering a famous golden goose that belonged to Cleopatra (the Cairo goose) but the girls’ lovers set out to capture the goose and bargain for the girls’ release.


Complete nonsense of course but Mozart’s music is sublime so Stephen Oliver, genius that he was, created a version that is more than just a completion of Mozart’s opera of the same title. He extended it and modified it slightly so that all of Mozart’s music is used and his own music is written within Mozart’s own orchestration. The final work is astonishing and shocking and Oliver’s own music – often dark and foreboding – lies in contrast to Mozart’s flamboyant brilliance.


The cast of singers was outstanding and included Fflur Wyn, Soraya Mafi, Ellie Laugharne, Victoria Symmonds (standing in at the last minute for the indisposed Diana Montague) Robert Murray, Christopher Diffey, Alexander Baker and Quirijn de Lang.


Staging this opera was an act of bravery by the LMP management team. We discussed its merits, baulked at the cost, worried about the ‘modernity’ of the music compared to our usual emphasis on the classical period and realised that this was a huge undertaking, artistically and financially, at a time when the orchestra was still completing its ‘transition’ to a self-governed orchestra.


Only a homemade recording existed of the work and the score and parts had to be completely recopied. On top of all this our wonderful Marketing / PR team of Cat and Fiona had to ‘sell’ a completely unknown work – part Mozart, part ‘modern’ Oliver – to a public that wouldn’t have any idea what to expect! The beautiful golden goose that was the centrepiece of our operatic props was handmade by Cat – a brilliant piece of work in itself and an indication of the dedication our team gave to the task of making this performance happen.


The Goose was a fabulous team effort by Jenny Brady, Sara Gale, Martin Sargeson, David Wilson and Julia Desbruslais who not only led to admin team for the opera but performed as co-principal cello. Thanks to the artistic team of Sebastian Comberti, Martin Smith and David Angel for their bravery in giving this wonderful project the thumbs up.

imageOur conductor, David Parry, was superb throughout. His knowledge of opera, his experience and his professionalism with singers and orchestra alike enabled all the musicians to focus and give of their best. He conducted the world premiere of the Mozart / Oliver version at the Batignano Festival in Italy in 1990 and so was familiar with the work.


The London Mozart Players excelled in the performance with particular notable contributions from Lesley Hatfield (leader) and Anna Hashimoto (clarinet) who both made light work of fiendishly difficult cadenzas and solos along with some lovely horn solos by Caroline O’Connell. The performance was enthusiastically received and a wonderful start to our new LMP ‘brand – LMP Opera.
You can read a great review here by Rupert Christiansen from The Telegraph


Kolbuszowa Music School

imageimageReturning to Kolbuszowa is always a pleasure for me. I’ve been visiting the music school for around 5 years and the school is administered by an enthusiastic team who care passionately about the role of music in the lives of children in the region. Judging by the very happy atmosphere within the institution it seems to be much -loved by all the students.

Kolbuszowa itself is a small town in south-eastern Poland, with a population of only just over 9000 people. It is situated in beautiful forests and lies close to the Carpathian Mountains. Its recent history is traumatic. During the war, German troops burned down part of the town and about half of the Jewish population died. It was close to Kolbuszowa that, after the war, testing sites were discovered for the V1 and V2 rockets. After the war Kolbuszowa was rebuilt including a new library, the Museum of Culture and a new rail link connecting Kolbuszowa to all the major cities in Poland.


Today, Kolbuszowa is a quiet town but not when we have a trumpet or brass course which happens with increasing frequency. The first week of July each year sees the the annual Trumpet Acadeny course but in April we held a 2-day brass course for local students living in Kolbuszowa County. Brass players aged from 10 years through to adults worked with a stellar line up of tutors on a variety of ensemble pieces culminating in a final performance on Day 2. The tutors also showed off their skills with individual contributions accompanied by Wioletta Fluda which was much appreciated by all the students.

imageThe tutors for the course were:

Paul Archibald (trumpet)
Tomasz Slusarczyk (trumpet)
Tomasz Bińkowski (horn)
Maciej Łakomy (bass trombone)
Wojciech Rolek (tuba)
Wioletta Fluda (piano)











It completed an inspirational week for me working in three different music school -Bytom, Žywiec and Kolbuszowa – collaborating with some of the finest teachers and brass players in Poland. Most memorable for me was the attitude and enthusiasm of all the young players I met during my time in this wonderful country. I look forward to my next visit in July for the annual Trumpet Academy course.



Žywiec Music School

Following the 3-day brass course at Bytom Music School I travelled from Bytom to Žywiec, a small town in south-central Poland, with Kornel Wieczorek, principal trumpet of Silesian Opera and trumpet teacher at the Witold Rowicki National Music School in Žywiec.

Žywiec was first mentioned in a written document in 1308 so it is a place full of history. A major feature of the town is the Old Castle built in the mid-14th century and is surrounded by a beautiful 260,000 square metre landscape park established in the 17th century. For those who are less culturally inclined the town also houses the Żywiec Brewery, established in 1852 and bought by Heineken International in the 1990s.


A pride and joy of the town must be the Witold Rowicki National Music School. Named after the eminent Polish conductor Witold Rowicki the school boasts state-of-art facilities, excellent accommodation for guest artists and a wonderful concert hall just perfect for hosting chamber concerts and recitals.

During the afternoon I gave a workshop to the trumpet students who presented a range a repertoire from baroque to modern classics. It was clear that the students enjoyed and benefitted from having Kornel Wieczorek as their teacher and they all enthusiastically performed their pieces and very responsive to new musical ideas. Fortunately, their English was far superior to my Polish!

After the workshop Barbara Pakura (piano) and I gave a recital in the concert hall which was a delight given the excellent acoustics of the hall. The programme also included a world premiere of The Boy King by Jeffery Wilson who composed the piece for me in 2015.



Post-concert Barbara and I were driven back to to Zywiec where I met my good friend Arkadiusz Garus who kindly drove the 90 kms to Krakow. On arrival in Krakow I met Thomas Slusarczyk and Bronislaw Niezgoda, the Director of Music at Kolbuszowa Music School, and we completed the final stage of our journey to Kolbuszowa by driving a further two hours to be ready for the start of our 2-day brass course the following day.

Just before we arrived at the hotel in Kolbuszowa we were stopped by the police for reasons of ‘traffic control’ and made to wait by the side of the road for 15 minutes! Given the road was deserted and Bronislaw was driving remarkably sensibly it was a strange incident but at least we made it to Kolbuszowa…eventually!

Bytom Music School

I must admit I hadn’t heard of Bytom before I was invited to spend a few days at the Bytom Music School as part of English Brass Academy’s international collaborations. Situated in Upper Silesia, Poland, Bytom is one of the oldest towns in the region and its beginnings can be traced back to the 11th century so we’re talking about a place with history.


The town’s prosperity was founded on trade and mining (silver, lead) which peaked around the middle of the 14th century but things turned nasty throughout the 16th century when it was plagued by fires and religious unrest. Throw in an ongoing 30-year war into the mix and things weren’t looking so good.

To compound the problems Bytom fell into the hands of a private owner (UK take note…) and became part of the Henckel von Donnenrsmarck family estate which effectively sealed the town’s decline. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th Century that life started to improve and, incredibly, it took until 1908 for Bytom to be taken out of private ownership and fully restored to its municipal status.


During the second half of the 19th century and through until the 1920s the town boomed due to the rapid development of the mining industry of coal, zinc, lead, iron, steel, coke, ceramics and lime. Sadly, in the last few years, five of Bytom’s mines and two of its steelworks – major local employers – have been closed down along with a number of other industries associated with mining. There is some good news, however, as job openings in the last few years have increased in the commercial and services sector and have virtually replaced the town’s former industrial character.


But when it comes to culture Bytom is a class act. The town is well known in Poland for its cultural excellence, particularly in dance, music and singing. Silesian Opera has its home in Bytom and has given about 200 premieres of operas and ballets, championing works by Polish composers such as Karol Szymanowski (1882 – 1937), Ludomir Różycki (1883 – 1953) and Witold Rudziński (1913 – 2004). It’s repertoire also includes the operas of Mozart, Verdi and Puccini and contemporary operas.


In addition to Silesian Opera, Bytom hosts the Museum of Upper Silesia, the Bytom Cultural Centre, the Municipal Library, many art galleries and one of the finest music schools in Poland, Bytom Music School.


The School was founded in 1954 and places an emphasis on instrumental tuition as part of the curriculum. Pupils have the opportunity to study a full range of instruments with plenty of opportunity to develop their skills in a variety of ensembles and choirs. It is rated as one of the finest schools in Poland not least due to its wonderful ethos that music stimulates intellectual development, encourages a greater sensitivity to the arts and impacts positively on academic achievement. Nicky Morgan please take note….

image I was invited by the school to bring some of the work we do with English Brass Academy to collaborate in a 3-day course at Bytom Music School with a focus towards cultivating ensemble skills. The enthusiastic young brass players at the school had formed themselves into quartets and quintets and worked on a selection of repertoire to be performed in the final concert in the school’s beautiful concert hall.

In addition to the existing chamber groups, we created a very energetic trumpet ensemble that catered for all the trumpeters and an excellent advanced trumpet group consisting of tutors and students. The tour-de-force was a fabulous rendition of Charpentier Fantastique for symphonic brass, percussion and piano. Memorably, the concert began with a solo performance by 6 year old Bartosz Gizicki who made the most beautiful sound even though he had lost most of his milk teeth!


During my time at the school there was plenty of work to do for the principal trumpet tutors, Arkadiusz Garus, Artur Kulka and me. Arkadiusz and Artur had organised the schedule brilliantly so we achieved results quickly and efficiently as all the children were keen to make this performance very special. We were fortunate to be joined by Thomas Slusarczyk, trumpeter and authority on baroque style and pedagogy. His superb playing and knowledge of the early music repertoire was inspirational for both tutors and students! The final programme that we put together was an incredible achievement with a rich variety of repertoire

Concert Programme
Szymon Laskowski (trumpet)

Amazing Grace
Bartosz Gizicki (cornet)
Aura Lee
Junior Trumpet Ensemble
Super Trouper
All Night, All Day
Theme from Titanic
Easy Winners

Thomas Slusarzcyk (trumpet), Barbara Pakura (piano)
Torelli Trumpet Concerto in D
Henryk Frankowski Brass
Handel March from Judas Maccabeus
Handel Allemande
Tchaikovsky Theme from Swan Lake
Paul Archibald (trumpet), Barabara Pakura (piano)
Henri Busser Andante et Scherzo
Mirek Kuchlewski Brass
Bach Aria
Telemann Generosité
Thomas Slusarzcyk (trumpet), Barbara Pakura (piano)
Handel Suite for Trumpet
BBQ Brass
John Williams Theme from Superman
arr P Molton That’s a Plenty
Paul Archibald (trumpet), Barabara Pakura (piano)
George Bizet Suite from Carmen
Tutor / Student Trumpet Octet
Edward Chance Requiscite Alternis
Full ensemble
arr Paul Archibald Charpentier Fantastique


The hospitality shown to me by the tutors, administrative team and students at the school was wonderful and a reminder how welcoming and friendly Polish people are towards visitors. The success of the programme was such that we’re already thinking about next year to continue the work that we have begun this year. Congratulations to a great team at Bytom Music School and I’m looking forward to seeing you again next year!

Performance Anxiety: 4 Bars Rest Hits the Spot


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Even the best suffer performance anxiety...

Even the best suffer performance anxiety…

On Sunday June 8 2014 I’m organising an Introduction to Managing Performance Anxiety course on behalf of the English Brass Academy at Putney High School. It should be a great couple of sessions as I’ve invited Andy Evans, himself a musician but also one of the UK’s top performance psychologists, to talk about this delicate subject.

I spoke to Iwan Fox, editor of 4 Bars Rest, the world’s most popular website for brass band news, about this topic and he, wisely, linked the whole area of performance anxiety amongst musicians to football and footballers. You can read his article here:

As the World Cup in Brazil is only a few weeks away I suppose we’re all bracing ourselves for the inevitable penalty shoot out in which England seems to constantly embroil itself and, of course, we know the outcome is usually bad news for our poor fellas. I get the impression that football is a macho type of game and these guys really don’t talk about getting ‘the pearlies’ just before they take that shot before 2 billion people.

Maybe musicians are the same. We feel we need to be ‘bullet proof’ that, as professional musicians we need to be above all that. I recently sat on the examination panel for a final recital at a music college and my colleague on the panel, yes – an academic – castigated the poor girl for being nervous. You see – it’s perceived as unacceptable for musicians to be worried or show apprehension. It’s seen as a weakness. Perhaps its the same in football.

Well, I’m hoping that the Introduction to Managing Performance Anxiety will help highlight this problem for many musicians and Andy Evans is certainly a guy who knows his stuff. If you want more information about the event take a look at the English Brass Academy website at:

The session commences bright and early at 9.00am. There’ll be coffee and nibbles and it’ll be a relaxed, informal day in a supportive atmosphere. Look forward to seeing you on Sunday…


Some People Are Just So Talented….


We occasionally hear about astonishing talented virtuosi. Our brass band fraternity seems to produce them quite regularly. But Emily White is different. Not only is she right at the top of the contemporary and early music scene as a trombonist she also happens to be one of our leading baroque violinists. As a member of English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble – 12 discs have won awards so far – she has played for productions in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and performs regularly with our top ensembles such as the Academy of Ancient Music and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. She’s worked with Paul McCartney and appeared on Eastenders. Quite an eclectic career so far but it doesn’t end there. Emily has also played modern and period violin in productions at the Globe Theatre and recently organised a chamber series that included classical string and wind chamber music, sackbut and cornet ensemble, Early strings and countertenor plus a modern Brass quintet. I told you she was different…
As a teacher Emily’s credentials are impeccable. She is guest professor of sackbut at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and is the Early Brass Coach at Trinity College of Music. She is a regular member of the English Brass Acadeny team so I’m fortunate to see first hand her inspirational teaching methods and the transforming effect she has on her stidents. I’m delighted that Emily is joining us for our Boot Camp. She really is a one off….

My Year as a Euphonium Player

imageBrass Band Boot Camp June 6-8 2014.

• English Brass Academy
• Brass Band Boot Camp June 6-8 2014
• Putney High School, London

There’s no doubt about it, David Thornton can certainly play the euphonium. His CV is as impressive as it gets and you can check him out on youtube and CDs. You’ll be mpressed. Funnily enough, I played euphonium for a year when I was a kid.

Now, let’s be honest, my band at the time, Parkhead Citadel Salvation Army Band was no Black Dyke or Brighouse & Rastrick but we could hack out a neat and tidy march such as Star Lake or even fumble our way through Treasures from Tchaikovsky. It wasn’t the music that was the problem, it was whether the band survived playing an open air service each Sunday in what was just about the roughest part of Glasgow. Home to Celtic Football Club, if you didn’t wear green you were fair game. My problems were compounded by being the only English kid (I was 11) in the local school. Fortunately, my best friend was a tough nut and
no one messed with him. Back to the band and my sidekick on euphonium could play high, fast and loud. But the bandmaster loved me because I could outdo him with the vibrato so lesson learned – keep it sweet and you’ll make friends.

A year later and we’d moved onto to Eccles Citadel and my reputation on euphonium was such that that it was decided that my talents might be best suited to the tenor horn. Ah well….

Now David can play high, loud, fast and sweet and he’s a top teacher too with RNCM, Huddersfield Uni and Chet’s under his belt. Now if I’d met someone like him when I was eleven maybe I’d be principal euph in Brighouse now….

Brass Band Boot Camp June 6-8 2014. Some thoughts…

imageEnglish Brass Academy
Brass Band Boot Camp June 6-8 2014
Putney High School, London

Organising the Brass Band Boot Camp course, working alongside Sheona White (tenor horn) and David Thornton (euphonium), for English Brass Academy has made me think Having started life as a tenor horn player at the age of 5 in Lye Citadel YP Band too may years ago I willingly immersed myself into the life of the ‘bander’. I loved it! Just about every night was spent at the Sally Army Hall – my parents were Salvation Army officers and my brother John was equally consumed with the banding bug – we couldn’t get enough of it! Lye Citadel was a small corps so everyone chipped in. I picked up my tenor horn from the YP Bandleader’s house who put the fingering under the first hymn tune. He made sure I could blow the thing and that was it. Straight to band practice and I learned by jumping in the deep end. Aged 5 I was in the band! It was the one and only lesson I was to receive, apart from my Dad helpfully reminding me about split notes, until I was 17…

Hearing both Sheona and David play as effortlessly they do, the consummate artistry they possess, the ease with which they navigate the most difficult passages has reminded me of the wonderful heritage that we now carry on within the banding fraternity. This uniquely British institution, equally important in its musical, social and holistic strands, has tranformed my life. I am sure it transformed Sheona and David’s life too.

When I spoke to both Sheona and David they couldn’t have been more willing to participate in the Boot Camp.These legends of the brass world loved the idea of giving back. In spite of the fame and glory they enjoy they love engaging with musicians. They love performing and mixing with other ‘banders’. They want to play their part in carrying on this wonderful tradition of banding and to help others to achieve their personal ambitions.

It’s a priviledge for me to work with both Sheona and David. I’m looking forward to this course. It has special personal overtones for me and I really hope you’ll come along and work with these two incredible performers. It could change your life as it did mine all those years ago at Lye Citadel.