Academy Newsletter - Winter 2022

Christmas is almost upon us and I hope you are all well prepared and festive plans are going well.  As I scribble up this Newsletter the rain is pouring down outside and the prospect of a White Christmas in this part of the country appears to be a non-starter – again!  We did have snow on the ground in 2010, that having fallen in the weeks leading up to the festive period and give or take the odd flurry over the years, nothing like we see in Christmas movies as we settle down in front of the television.

I want to start by saying a big thank you to all Academy playing members, parents, relatives and friends, you have been 100% fantastic throughout 2022.  We have achieved so much this year and we only do that by working as a team.  I have witnessed much individual playing development and progress complete with tireless support of parents and relatives ferrying members to and from the weekly sessions. I thank members, parents and relatives for help and suggestions relating to how we can grow and develop the Academy and I will be furthering some of your ideas going forward into 2023.  I must also make mention of Steve Ingham as without his valuable assistance the Academy could not operate.  Like me, Steve rolls up straight from a day of work and enters into the spirit of helping and supporting our up and coming brass musicians.  In fact, I would also go as far as to label Steve ‘Mr Gillingham Band’.  Steve is literally keeping the Main/Senior Band alive as well as his much appreciated Academy work.  He should be in the King’s New Year honours list!  Thank you Steve and thank you one and all.

2022 – A reflection:
I hope you have enjoyed the music we have worked with during the year.  The lion’s share of that which we play I arrange so that it meets with the capabilities of all and generally that is working well.  I am already starting to arrange new material for the Spring Term and as you all improve, I find that we are able to play some of the published music which the Band has in its’ comprehensive Music Library.  Of especial note this year was the work we carried out with the Beatles tunes and for the Training Band ‘The Great Escape’.  I do plan for the Academy to have opportunities to perform this music and more during 2023.
Players come and players go and on the latter point it is always a disappointment when a player gives up playing for the Academy.  Equally it is a great joy when new members join us and we welcomed three new beginners in the latter part of this year.  The Academy kick starts for many their musical education journey and it was wonderful this year to hear praise from a member of the Gillingham Senior School staff regarding the foundation the Academy has provided for a number of musicians at the school.
Recruitment has been a strong feature this year and has involved writing to Gillingham Primary School in the early part of the year promoting the Academy.  The Meadow Fete in July was when a six piece from the Senior Band played throughout a very hot Saturday complete with intervals whereby the public attending could try playing hosepipes/funnels and instruments.  A very good article featuring the Band in the 5th of August edition of the Blackmore Vale Magazine and a mass leaflet drop during the Gillingham Carnival afternoon procession in October.  We have picked up three new members via these initiatives which may not seem a lot but it is positive progress. Probably our most valuable promotion tool is the ‘word of mouth’ and we can all actively engage in this by talking with friends and relatives and explaining the opportunities to be had and encouraging people to visit and try us out.
Christmas music has been fun and we now have a good library of tunes that developed admirably over the course of this Autumn term.  The performance during the Band Open Morning last Saturday was something that I was so happy with, I am very proud of all who put heart and soul into fine preparation and who, on the day, were a true credit to the Band and to the local community.  I was also pleased that two members of the Training Band made their Senior Band debuts at the ‘Light Up A Life Service’ (Joseph Weld Hospice) at Orchard Park on the 8th December – it was cold Bbbbrrrhhh!!  On that note, sorry about the heating problems at the end of term during that awful cold weather.







Light Up A Life – Orchard Park December 8th 2022


⦁    Return to the Academy
⦁    All but with the exception of our three very beginners, return to the Academy will be on Tuesday the 10th January 2023 at 6pm.  Steve and Elizabeth will be taking that session as I have a staff meeting at one of my schools.
⦁    Very Beginners, we will start on Tuesday the 17th January.  Sorry we cannot begin the previous week, but Steve, like myself, comes straight from work and cannot make the 5.30pm start time.
⦁    I am looking to amend times and structure of Academy sessions to -
⦁    afford a little more time to the Very Beginners session
⦁    include a Saturday morning session (probably once a term) where we can run some 1:1 tuition, group rehearsal and competitions
⦁    before changing anything I need to run ideas past Steve and the Committee and to see what, if any, amendments will be made to my teaching timetable at the school where I teach on a Tuesday to possibly free me up a little earlier on a Tuesday, so watch this space.
⦁    Closer liaison with local Primary Schools. We currently have a great relationship with St Mary the Virgin Primary School and need to build something on an equal footing with the other primary schools in Gillingham and schools in the surrounding area.  I would hope to be offering via the Academy, a support function for the new National Music Curriculum and a Proms in the Playground offer.  The latter would hopefully include Academy and Senior Band members playing at school fetes whilst at the same time promoting the Band.
⦁    If the Meadow Fete is repeated in the Summer of 2023, I would very much like the Academy to play a few sets of music to promote the Band and Academy, I will be making enquiries to see if this is on the cards for the new year.
⦁    An Academy charity ‘Practice-A-Thon’.  We last did this in November 2019 and raised £1,075 for Children in Need.  Perhaps we could do this again in 2023 and as much as I am free and open to suggestions, we could choose Joseph Weld Hospice and see if we could get a ‘Shop Window Display’ in Gillingham’s Joseph Weld Charity shop, just a thought.
⦁    Care and Maintenance of Instruments Workshop – Spring 2023 – date to be announced soon.  For younger members of the Academy I would recommend that parents please attend as you can then see how it is all done and be in a position to help out your younger ones at home if the instrument needs a bath, the slides need cleaning/greasing and/or the valves need cleaning/oiling
These are just a few thoughts and ideas for next year but please, if you have any suggestions, then do please raise them, I am always eager to try new routes to generate a busy and progressive Band and Academy.

Wessex Band Summer School 2023
This all started out in the Summer of 1970 by two great friends of mine, John Grinnell (then a Trombone player from Sturminster Newton) and Andrew Pitts (a fine Tuba/Bass player who I joined my first Band with back in 1966).  John has handed over the reins since but the Summer School, which is held at Sturminster Newton High School goes from strength to strength and is a fantastic experience for any brass (or woodwind) player, whatever the capability or age.  Many adults now attend the Summer School as well as younger people.  The Summer School 2023 will be held from Monday the 31st July to Saturday the 5th August inclusive.  Camping facilities on site or Day attendance, workshops, graded bands, first class caring and understanding tutors including top names from the world of brass and woodwind and all culminating in a finale concert on the Saturday in Sturminster Newton.  I will publish further information in a future Newsletter with details of how to apply if interested.  I attended the very first of these courses and it all comes very highly recommended.

Some have paid up subscriptions for the whole academic year but for those who haven’t this is not a problem as term by term payments are still most welcome.  Please do let me know if you pay by Bank Transfer as I can then amend my subscription records.  Cash or cheque is still acceptable.  Cheques payable to GISB please and details below for Bank Transfers -
Bank - Lloyds Bank
Account Number 00049337
Sort Code 309345

These details are also contained within the ‘Welcome Pack’ which recently joining members will have been sent by me along with subscription costs, which are £15 per term.

Attendance for Academy evenings
Please note that the start times of an evening are when we start working in the session so be there at least 5 minutes beforehand to get warmed up.  Last term and the term before there were gradual slippages of the times that members were arriving which was resulting in things not really getting going until 10 minutes or so past the start time.  I know that this has been unsettling for some members as they have told me as much.  In saying this I do understand that there will be occasions when one is going to be late for unavoidable reasons but if we  could all try and be in the Band Room ready to play at the start time it would be ever so much appreciated, thank you.

So that is all bases covered for now, I think.  Do have a wonderful break and a very Happy Christmas and New Year to you all – see you in 2023 

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