How a community band collected new players and new followers

 

2014 - A Year of Reconnecting for St John’s Band, Mossley. A perspective by Beren Airstone  When my son and I walked into the rehearsal room at St John’s Band, Mossley, we were welcomed with open arms (plus generous loan of instruments and bags of encouragement).  This was September and by the Christmas Social Concert, I was on the committee putting in place plans for 2014. St John’s Band has a long history and strong musical heritage.  Many of the band have played since they were children and are known in the local community as excellent players, who support the brass band tradition by playing Christmas carols around the streets, concerts in retirement homes and for supporting church and Remembrance Day events.  The band is well known on Whit Friday, both on the Whit Walks and as stalwarts of the Tameside Contests. A new forward-thinking MD, plus the funding for a learner band provided the starting points for change at St. John’s, encouraging young people just starting out and the older established band members to reconnect with Mossley in new ways in 2014. We have supported Friends of Mossley Park in their public events, both by playing and running a band stall (with instruments to try and fundraising activities).  We spent the day at Mossley Fire Station, at an event organised by Mossley Town Team, receiving a great deal of support and interest from local families.  Also greatly enjoyed was the hottest day of the year, when we played by the canal at an event in support of the Homeless Veterans Society. Alongside this, we have put together an inspirational and moving ‘Songs of Yesteryear’ programme at a number of local concerts in support of the WW1 year of remembrance.  This was a scripted performance, with actors in costume and a visual display showing a young man’s journey from a mill town in Tameside to the trenches of Northern France. All these occasions have reinforced for us the need to keep the band alive and well-at one event we had over a dozen requests from local families to help their children to start learning a brass instrument.  We have also had requests from local radio and hospitals to play short concerts and the usual round of Harvest and Christmas commitments. What we have realised is that our year of reconnecting should allow us to ‘springboard’ the band into a new phase: a phase where we can not only bring new players onto the scene but one where we can put on, and be paid for, a season of outstanding concerts.  We have the musical knowledge, ability, a dynamic committee and the determination that 2015 can be even bigger and better! Beren Airstone, Committee Member