Sound it from the rooftops - the rousing tones of Uttoxeter's Brass Band, muffled by the onslaught of coronavirus - could be about to ring out more joyfully than ever in 2021 as the group begins work to rebuild from the impact of the pandemic.
As venues shut across the UK to try and contain the coronavirus outbreak over the last nine months the band fell silent for the first time in its 25 year history. During the long break that followed finances have been strained and there are fears that membership could be impacted once the band is able to rehearse once more.
But backstage there have been plans forged to help ensure the group’s survival. And its players now need your help to ensure the group head towards a crescendo as life returns to normal over the coming months.
A clarion call for new members has now been put out by band welfare officer Liz Broad. Speaking to the Echo she said: “Following COVID we suspect our membership will be affected, particularly amongst the development band, so we’re planning to visit local schools again to encourage new players. Although we encourage learners of all ages – we have several learners of the mature age group – they tend to progress really quickly as they have masses of self motivation!
“But we will need finance to recoup our losses accrued over the past nine months – we have voluntarily continued to pay a reduced rent to Dove Church to help cover their expenses, and we’ll have instruments which will need servicing after so many months of no use.”
A campaign on crowdfunder.co.uk aims to raise £1,000 for the band and was nearing £300 as the Echo went to press. Liz continued: “Our crowdfunder money will be needed to get us all back on our feet. We’re hoping to offer rewards for donators but this is in the early stages of organisation. We hope to be back to full strength next summer, having bought some new exciting music and rehearsing regularly to get our playing back up to standard- can’t wait!”
The band was formed by a group of local enthusiastic musicians who were concerned that Uttoxeter had no band to lead the annual Remembrance Sunday parade. At first they practiced at Bradley House, but outgrew their available space, so moved to the JCB social club. A development band was then set up which gave new members a place to hone their skills.
Free lessons and instruments are loaned to those who need them. Both the development band and senior band perform at concerts in and around the local area, including Trentham Gardens, Shugborough Hall, Lark in the Park and Christmas Cracker. They also liaise with local schools to encourage pupils to think about playing brass and boost its numbers of younger players. Before the first lockdown the group were rehearsing every Tuesday at Dove Church in Uttoxeter following the closure of the JCB social club, with an early rehearsal and lessons for newer players, followed by the senior band. Many members play in both bands, helping others to develop their confidence and skills.
Among those who have been helped to develop their playing over the years is member Lucy Clipsom. The 33 -year-old said: “I first helped out the band six years ago and loved it so much I joined full time and now the principal cornet player. It is such a great community band with lots of laughter and making great music together. Our concerts also provide great entertainment to all audiences.
“Anyone who loves music and wishes to learn are so welcome to join our development band. Free lessons and an instrument too! It is amazing to be part of the band family.”
To support the group search for Uttoxeter Brass Band crowdfunder on Google and for more information visit uttoxetertownbrassband.com
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