The Comeback King
I haven't always played in brass bands. In fact, prior to joining Cold Ash Brass in Autumn 2015 I hadn't played at all for more than a decade! Though starting in a marching show band I was classically trained through orchestral playing on the trumpet in the county symphonic orchestra in the South West and various local groups. As adulthood kicked in however I was tempted away from my instrument and believed I had better things to do with my evenings. I was wrong!
For the next 12 years I often thought of picking up the trumpet but part of me feared I would not sound the same after so much down-time. Ironically the more time that went by the more this became true until randomly after moving to Newbury, getting married and 2 children later I decided I missed playing too much and thought I would dust off the old case. As expected I was not impressed by the sound and kicked myself for leaving it so long, even reading music was a challenge for all but the most basic. Thankfully the fingering was still locked in my muscle memory.
I decided I would stick with it and started some weekly tuition to get me back into the swing. A few weeks later I was starting to find my feet though still frustrated with my playing compared to my memory in the distant past. Knowing that ensemble playing is a great way to grow as a player my tutor recommended the Cold Ash Brass Community band which I tentatively reached out to and joined for my first rehearsal in October 2015. Optimistic MD Jess Watson stuck me on front row! The regular combination of tutoring, practicing and band rehearsal started to kick in and I began migrating to the end chair to take Principal Cornet for the Community Band.
It was a pleasure playing at the local schools and giving the main band a break at concerts as well as the great fun and atmosphere in the rehearsal room. Six months from starting I played with the main band at a few fetes and began hanging around on the back row on 3rd/2nd cornet after Community Band rehearsals. The higher standard of music though a bit daunting at first was of great help to my playing which I was able to give back in the Community Band position. Thankfully the great people in the band are extremely welcoming and fun to play with. I have really enjoyed getting to know such a great bunch.
Sadly after cementing a 2nd cornet role in the main band my lip no longer had enough to play (well) for 3 hours straight or right the way through a concert and so was with a heavy heart that I retired from the Community Band. From that point until now I have had the fortune to play a solo in the Christmas concert 2016 and recently the pleasure to play a duet with my former Community Band MD. Not to mention have a hand in the band's promotion to Second Section and progress to the exciting repiano cornet chair.
Some of the gigs I enjoy most are some of the least popular but weave CAB into the fabric of the community - fetes, carolling and the Remembrance Parade. For the latter my first experience was in the 2016 parade and, whilst trying to remember my marching band training, the band led the community on the parade with pride. Culminating with the sobering Last Post played beautifully by our MD Jemma Johnstone as the whole parade observed with reverence.
And so whilst the contesting is a useful gauge for the band's development it is the community events and great people that keeps me clock-watching at the office on a Thursday afternoon. Come back King? Maybe not yet but I'm working on it! - Lewis