2014 in Review: Lions Beginners

By: ChrisThompson - 18 December 2014

A look back at the wonderful year our Beginner Band has had.

I have to admit at the outset that I’m struggling to know where to begin with this end of year review. It really has been quite some year for the Lions Beginner Band. Nevertheless, I will attempt to try and sum it up in a reasonably eloquent fashion.

The highlight of the year has been, without doubt, the band’s stunning contest performances. The past few years have seen us enter both the Newcastle Festival and National Finals and 2014 was no different. At Newcastle this year we were delighted to achieved third place in the Under 14’s section. This was achieved in a section of 6 bands, and with our band having an average age of 9, with no player being above the age of 11. I have no doubt that this performance was the best the band has ever given under my direction and the third place was richly deserved.

Then we moved onto Salford for the Nationals. Once again, the band put in a wonderful performance (which can be heard here) which was rewarded with a place in the prizes as we picked up the award for ‘Band with Most Potential.’ As at Newcastle, this was a well-deserved award for the band, who had worked incredibly hard in the build up to both competitions.

However, contests aren’t everything. As a result of the committee’s efforts to push us forwards to play more concerts, this year has seen us very busy on stage. The band enjoy getting their chance to show what they have been working on and I look forward to them continuing to do so in 2015.

At this point it is only fair to mention two very special people to Lions Beginner Band; our two excellent tutors, Derek Gardener and Matthew Darlington. They take children out from the band in smaller groups to give them a little boost here, or a small push there and it is easy to see a) how much the children love working with them and b) how well the children respond to them. All of the achievements of 2014 would not have been possible without Derek and Matthew’s tireless efforts and endless support. I really believe the Beginners is a team effort, and I’m glad we have people of the calibre of Derek and Matthew on our side!

One way that their hard work is shown is in looking at how many youngsters have moved up into the Juniors over the 12 months. Whilst it is always pleasing to see children move on throughout the organisation, it does have a knock on effect to the Beginners. Currently, the average age of the band is a ‘low’ 8 with only one player aged above 11. We have welcomed 14 new players to the band since June and have another few joining us in January. Numbers are now hovering around the 40 mark, which considering it was 16 when I began in 2005, is no mean feat. The new players have settled in well and there is some real potential in the group, a potential which myself, Matthew and Derek will have the challenge of unlocking as we head into 2015.

As usual, it is only right to thank the usual suspects; Jane and her hardworking committee who, without their tireless efforts, we wouldn’t be able to do half of what we do, and to fellow 'music men' Tom, Steve, and Nigel for your expertise and support. Also, thank you to all of you, the parents, for all of your support. I am aware that I ask and expect a lot of the children in my band and without your support that would not be possible.

The final thank you goes to the most important people in the band; the players. I consider myself very lucky to get to work with such an amazing bunch of youngsters every Tuesday evening. I am incredibly proud of every single one of them and hope they are proud of what they have achieved together over the past twelve months.

In closing, roll on 2015! Although I don’t want to see the back of 2014, which will long be considered a vintage year for the organisation I’m sure, the New Year looks bright for both the Beginners and the organisation as well.

Finally, all that remains is for me to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and the best for the New Year,