By: ChrisThompson - 21 December 2015
A look at 2015 through the eyes of the Beginners
If 2014 had been an excellent year for the Lions Beginner Band, then 2015 quite possibly exceeded it. That’s quite some boast, but I’ll try to convince you whilst you read this annual review of LBB’s year.
At the end of last year’s review I wrote about how I didn’t want 2014 to end but was looking forward to the challenge ahead. The band that started 2015 was a young band and, over the course of the year, got younger(!) due to the continual progression of players for Beginner to Junior – with the band that took to the stage for the first concert of the 2015/16 academic year being just 8 years old! The aim of the organisation is to help players develop and move on up through the ranks and to see so many make the move over the past 12 months has been one of many highlights of the year.
Perhaps for the children the main highlight was the introduction of our mascot, Jeff. Jeff is now suitably attired and you can see the look of joy on a players face (yes, even the older ones!) when they are chosen as 'Cool Crotchet' and get to take Jeff home for the week. He normally returns a week later accompanied by the most amazing story from the child who looked after him. I'm in no doubt that he is the most-travelled lion in a purple waistcoat in the world!!
The first half of the year saw rapid progression from the band. The spring term is always spent working towards the contests at both Newcastle and the Nationals and once again, the band rose expertly to the challenges set. They surpassed last year’s 3rd place at Newcastle, taking one step closer to the top prize by being awarded 2nd place in the Under 14 section. Then at the Nationals the band retained their award for ‘Band Showing Most Potential,’ beating off the competition in a keenly fought section for the second year in succession. This year they even read out the right name during the prize-giving ceremony, which meant that the children realised they had won something… which wasn’t the case in 2014!
The summer term sees the focus switch to concerts. After the Nationals we always lose a handful of players which can mean it is a tricky few months, however the children deserve great credit for not letting performances slip. One child moving up gives another child the chance to show what they can do and the summer concert performances showed that children were certainly doing that.
How does this progression happen? Well there is no magic wand, but the performances you hear on stage are down to the hard work put in behind the scenes. I am extremely lucky to have such a fantastic team to work with in the shape of Derek and Matthew. Their tireless work with the youngsters of this organisation deserve huge recognition. Both personally and professionally, they are both brilliant and I was delighted that Matt made a great success of the concert in Crewe during October when I was unavailable. We had further good news in the summer when we were joined by Charlotte Birch who, in joining us as a tutor, has now gone full circle, having joined the Beginner Band way back in 2005 when I first took over - and had more hair! Charlotte has settled in well and is already making good progress on her primary charges; the trombones, euphoniums and baritones.
Thank you as always to Jane and the committee. They are truly magnificent and 90% of what goes on at LYB wouldn't happen if it wasn't for them - I hope our public performances are ample thanks for the job they do. Also thank you to the organisations other musical gurus; Nigel, Tom and Steve - it is a pleasure to work with you all, gentlemen. I also need to thank you, the parents as it is your support that enables children to attend concerts, contests and rehearsals. Finally, the players deserve a huge thank you. I'm incredibly proud that every single one of you represents Lions Youth Brass. Working with you on a Tuesday evening is a real treat and I do appreciate just how lucky I am to be able to conduct you all - thank you for your hard work and dedication.
So, let's see what 2016 brings! Whatever happens, I know that the children in purple waistcoats will do us proud.
Finally, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,