Back to the beginning

Band at Alton Towers2

From the “edge”, “top” or even da capo are other ways of describing the experiences of the past few weeks. My playing career started in brass bands and yesterday I was back again playing with the Hatfield Band at the National Championships in Cheltenham.

During my absence from the brass band world very little has changed and it was good to catch up with colleagues I had not seen for many years – some performers and some now conducting. The social side, camaraderie, dedication and passion for music was still very evident as well as the competitive element as the bands vied to be the number one on that day and gain promotion to the Championship Section.

The choice of test piece was interesting as the composer had included four percussion parts although to perform all the elements on the score properly (taking into consideration stick/mallet/bow changes, moving between instruments…) six or seven percussionists would have been more appropriate. None of the bands could include this many performers and four, or at the most five, was the norm.

According to the latest ABRSM report Making Music ( percussion tuition is on the decline but if the brass bands keep performing works like this then encouraging more drummers to experiment with percussion will be a necessity. 17 bands took part in the 1st Section championships on Sunday with at least 70 percussionists performing in that one competition alone.

Hatfield Band 2014

Listening to the bands has rekindled my enthusiasm for composing for brass (the xylophone solos with band Two Spanish Dances and Silent Cinema Chase are still available) and I hope to write some more works in the near future as well as arranging for brass quintet. All details can be found at

© P.R.Birkby 2014


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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