Today marks 10 days to go until the Brass Band National Finals of Great Britain, and the excitement is starting to build. Last night we had a rehearsal, in our band club, and during the practice i’d realised how something like this can be taken for granted so easily. John (our conductor) gave us a talk mid practice – I think to give us a quick breather, and reminded us that moments like this need to be remembered and cherished, as you never know when they may come along again.
For those who may not know, in order to be able to compete at the National Finals, you have to qualify by either winning, or coming 2nd or 3rd in your section at the regional areas contest. Bodmin Town Band won the 2nd section back in March, in the sunny town of Torquay, and although I wasn’t actually playing due to university commitments, I was still there to be a supporter of the band and cheering when they finished! This means that competing at the National finals is actually a competition that needs preparation starting from the beginning of the year, when rehearsals for the Areas starts, even though the finals contest is in mid September.
With rehearsals kicking up a step this week, (we normally rehearse once a week) rehearsing 8 out of the next 10 days takes a lot of commitment in order to do this hobby, but like John Maines says “a contest isn’t won on stage, its won in the band room”. Some non-bandies may see this amount of rehearsals as quite extortionate for just 10 minutes playing on the stage, however, ‘contest week’ as we call it is almost as exciting as christmas in my household! All 4 of my family play in the band, and travelling down to Bodmin each night is so exciting, with the test piece (hopefully) getting better and better each night, before travelling away for the weekend with all our Band friends.
The contest takes place in Cheltenham Racecourse, which for me feels a bit like taking the band home with me, as I go to university in Cheltenham. I’ve been dying for the band to qualify for the finals for the past 2 years whilst I’ve been at university, and finally with my last year approaching we have. Our test piece for the second section is ‘Music of a Legacy’ by Steven Ponsford, which was originally written for Salvation Army Band.
The Finals is definitely a contest that is one of the most important for bands, as it can mean being crowned the National Champions of Great Britain, and say you’re the best of your section in the entirety of the UK. I’ve been lucky enough to compete at the finals 3 times already, and every time I’ve been it has been an unforgettable experience. The last time the band went to the finals was 4 years ago in the 3rd section, where we came 6th, which was amazing.
The band are working hard in order to put on a good performance on the 16th September in Cheltenham, and know it’s a long way to go for some people to hear the band. So we have opened our band room doors on Wednesday 13th September at 7.45pm for anyone who wants to come along for a listen to hear us before making the long trip to Cheltenham. Everyone is welcome and the band club bar will be open for you to enjoy a drink whilst we rehearse.