world : The young players with vital role in band's future

world : The young players with vital role in band's future
world : The young players with vital role in band's future

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:52 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Joseph, 14, a drummer in the academy, said: "I want to carry on playing, and hopefully one day to get to the senior band."

Neil Palmer, who has played with the band for more than 50 years, said: "We're looking ahead.

“We've got a lot of history, but we also want to make sure we have a great future."

Formed in the late 19th century by workers in the tin, steel and coal industries, the band competes against the best at championship level in the UK.

In the band room the trophies and certificates are on display alongside photographs showing the early pioneers of brass band playing.

But there is also an effort to develop new players.

Rehearsal sessions are led by a team of experienced musicians and teachers and players are encouraged to attend summer schools and weekend workshops.

The academy started in 2022 and Alison Gent, director of Brass@bont Academy said there were now four bands, including beginners who play in the Funtastic band.

"It's all down to team work," she said.

"We are really lucky that some many of our senior players help us and the young people here on their musical journey by either coming along to play during practice, or to sit next to them and help with one-to-one tuition."

While the big names in the Welsh band community such as Tredegar and the Cory Band have dominated the world rankings for the past decade, there is concern about a decline in bands playing in the lower sections.

Brass band commentator and player Iwan Fox, who edits the website 4barsrest said: "Section four is the foundation on which banding is based. It's like the apprenticeship.

“If we don't invest in that the foundations will collapse."

The Welsh Regional Championships are one of eight regional qualifying competitions for the finals of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain with about 40 bands competing across five sections.

But this year there was concern about a lack of entries in the fourth section when just three bands competed, leading to an urgent appeal for action.

This is what inspired Ms Gent to think of setting up a new band so "we could start building a fourth section band for 2026 so that our young players have got somewhere to aspire to".

The Welsh government has introduced a new music service offering children the opportunity to learn how to play instruments.

A spokesman said its "£13m National Music Service gives every three to 16-year-old the opportunity to play a musical instrument.

It added: "The service’s work also includes supporting community music and strengthening engagement with the national youth ensembles.

“We fund the arts through the Arts Council of Wales, who support organisations that help people get involved with making music, such as National Youth Arts Wales and Tŷ Cerdd."

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