Youth Bands in Peterborough and Huntingdon Area

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Robin Norman, Feb 14, 2010.

  1. Robin Norman

    Robin Norman Member

    Hi All,

    As a brass tutor at the Huntingdon Music School I have been having discussions with the director there, Warren Middleton, about setting up a youth brass band. However, before we move on this any further we are very keen not to step on anyone's 'toes' in the area. I have tried to do as much research as I can and, to date, have not found any regional bands in the area other than Youth Brass 2000 which is over 40 miles away.

    My question is this to all you wonderful tMP'ers out there. Does anyone know of any youth bands in the Peterborough/Huntingdon area of Cambridgeshire? I know that there used to be a Peterborough Band run by CIMA but I can't find any trace of that now.

    Any help gratefully received.
  2. Kjata

    Kjata Member

    The CIMA band folded several years ago, but never actually was a 'regional' band anyway, just like a training band.
  3. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    This is a grey area. As of 2006, Cambridgeshire Music (used to be CIMA) was running Youth Brass bands in Huntingdon, Peterborough and March (Fenland Area). If you are keen not to tread on anyone's toes, I strongly suggest you have a chat with Matthew Gunn at Cambridgeshire Music to find out what their current strategy is. Despite my own personal feelings for the bloke, I know that he will be more than willing to provide all the information on the area bands. This will prove invaluable, Robin, as it might help you to avoid any clashes which will invariably arise when using the same pool of good local players.

    Of course, you and I only live a knat's whisker away from the founder of the original Huntingdon and Peterborough Youth Brass Band, a certain Mr. Read MBE! I'm sure David will also be forthcoming with any information you want.

    Overall Robin, I do think there is room for an independently-run county band. Cambridgeshire Music have, in my opinion, thrown the baby out with the bathwater in many respects by amalgamating so many of the once-thriving bands and orchestras in order to save money.

    I sincerely wish you every success with this venture and hope you can see this through to fruition. I would also like to offer any assistance if I can be of help to you, provided my Cambridgeshire CRB check is still valid!
  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I have a feeling that Oundle School run their own brass band? But this wouldn't obviously occupy the same concept space as your idea anyway. Adele Sellers is head of brass there.
  5. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Oundle is a fee-paying school, so their brass band is for their pupils only. Also, Oundle is in Northamptonshire, just!

    I would suggest, Robin, that it might still be worth getting in touch there. I think they have a reasonably decent library so you might be able to borrow some music to start you off. Uppingham might also be worth a try.
  6. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    When I first moved to the area, I was quite surprised to hear that there wasn't a decent Cambridgeshire County band. Having grown up in Hampshire (hardly brass banding country!) with a really good county youth band (well, Youth, Traning and Junior bands) I thought Cambridgeshire would have something similar?

    Surely the whole county of Cambridgeshire, let alone Hunts and Peterborough, could create a great youth band, as good as, or comparable to Hampshire youth band?

    If you do start something up, I'd be interested to help out!
  7. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I think there is a little bit of mis-information going on here. As an ex-CIMA teacher, I think I should try and get to the bottom of things, considering I've lived in the area since 1977!

    There has never been a county-wide band to my knowledge. The main reason I think is that Cambridgshire is a funny county. Like many other rural counties in the UK, it takes possibly 2 hours to drive from one end (Wisbech, say) to the other (anywhere south of Cambridge). A central location doesn't really exist as the county has a number of large towns and three (yes, three) cities.

    To counter this, the old county music service (which morphed into CIMA in the 1990's) set up teaching services in the four administrative areas (Cambridge, Peterborough, Fenland and Huntingdon). The youth orchestras and bands have thrived in all those areas, and in some respects, still do.

    Brass Band-wise, there were two very strong bands which still exist in some form or other. Huntingdon and Peterborough areas merged their pool of good players and a band was formed in the 1970's conducted by David Read, and later by John Warburton. They used to bus all the kids down from Peterborough to the old Brookside school in Huntingdon and there were band and orchestra rehearsals every night of the week.

    The Fenland Brass Band was set up by my old mentor, the late Brian Halls and met up on Saturday mornings in the old grammar school in March. Both Fenland and H&P used to regularly compete in the old-style Youth Brass Band championships. The H&P band was particularly successful and once qualified for the National Finals.

    Cambridge Area (not to be confused with Cambridgeshire County) did experiment with a Youth Brass Band, but it folded. The reasons for this could be argued, but the Cambridge schools have generally leaned more towards orchestral training. The Cambridge Concert Band however has thrived.

    At the present, there are Youth training bands in Peterborough, Huntingdon, Fenland Area, Ely, Soham and Cambridge. While I agree there is definitely room for a county-wide band, I think that it is wrong to degrade the work that the current crop of teachers are doing at the moment. The music service has undergone a huge amount of change in recent years, not much of it for the better, and I think the current teachers are doing a fantastic job in very uncertain circumstances.

    For example, no new teachers are given a permanent contract; they are all taken on 'supply', meaning they can be sacked at a moment's notice should the work dry up. The conditions are so bad that the turnover of teachers is something akin to a call-centre. If teachers leave mid-term, the teacher is not replaced until September, but the lessons are still charged-for as the parents/schools are contractually bound. All in all, it's a very sorry state of affairs indeed. Schools are dropping out of the service like flies.

    So, to sum up, while I agree that a county band is a good proposal, there have been (and still are) opportunities for youngsters to play in youth bands throughout the county, run by a dedicated team of enthusiastic teachers, working under very poor conditions.

    Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now....
  8. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Hello all,

    Sorry for the long-winded post earlier this morning!

    Since then, I have received a telephone call from an old friend who was involved in the area bands in the 1970's, 80's and 90's. He informs me that I didn't include the North Cambridgeshire Youth Band. This included some players who also played at a very high level with the Cambridge Co-op Band who were a very strong Championship section band at the time.

    The North Cambridgeshire Band qualified for the national finals on three occasions and played at the Royal Albert Hall. The main reason for it's demise was because of clashes with senior bands in competitions. The powers that be organising the area championships scheduled the Youth contest and the senior band contests on the same day, forcing players to make a choice. The band's conductor at the time considered that the senior band should take priority - after all, it was often the case that the senior band was the provider of the instrument the young player was using!

    Anyway, thankyou for putting up with my long winded-ness. I thought I should add the above for the sake of historical accuracy. It is a great shame this band had to fold as it was probably the best of all the Cambridgeshire Youth bands, but has since been forgotten about.

    Anyway, back to subject! I was discussing this with my friend this morning and we were both in agreement that a county band might well be difficult because of logistics. Looking at the very successful Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Youth Orchestra, they have found it better to run week-long residential courses, as this would remove the problem of transport for players living in the far-flung outposts of the county (Wisbech, for example).

    Anyhoo, I think that the theory of this idea is great, but there would be a number of set-up and logistical problems that would require a lot of organisation. An independent Youth band would, for example need to purchase equipment and music, so it would need to perhaps tie-in with another organisation. Now, as Robin is heavily involved with the Huntingdon Regional College, that might give a head-start with this problem. Alternatively, perhaps a County Youth band may be able to tie-in with one of the established bands in the county, possibly Cambridge, Waterbeach, Fulbourn perhaps. But then, the 'sponsor' band might want something in return for their trouble.
  9. Robin Norman

    Robin Norman Member

    Thanks all for your helpful responses to this thread, very informative.

    Knowing how many people may view this on tMP if there is anyone out there who is interested in taking part in this (and would be prepared to travel to Huntingdon for rehearsals) please send me a PM to register your interest. We are initially thinking about a band with a minimum entry of grade 5 and under 19 years of age.

    At this stage I'd just need to know your name, instrument and grade.

    Thanks again.
  10. bandtaximum

    bandtaximum New Member

    Sarah said she would be happy to help while she is still at home if she can - think you know the intrument and grade.

    Interesting reading Duncan's posts - while Sarah was at school she never once got asked to play or was told about any County music groups that she would be able to take part in. She was taught by CIMA when she was in primary but we were unable to continue with this at Secondary, because of her level of playing she would have had to have an individual lesson and this was extremely cost prohibitive just for a 20 min lesson - think this was because her school did not part fund any of the music tuition.
  11. Rebecca Owen

    Rebecca Owen Member

    I wonder how many players that are already members of a well established, successful youth band mentioned in a previous post, would choose to join a new band, because it is slightly closer to home, or would continue to travel further, and stay with a band which already has good membership and attends some high profile competitions.

    Maybe if you are stuck on say, 2nd cornet and there is the oppotunity to make front row, then you may move, but then what happens if it doesn't work out and you go back to the original band - will you find yourself on 3rd cornet???!!!

    Just playing devils advocate !!!
  12. The only youth bands to my knowledge in this area (Soham) of Cambridgeshire are Newmarket and Fulbourn. Soham youth band folded some time ago.
    I was fortunate enough to live in a village called Wicken - which had a very successful large youth band when I joined and I got brought up very quickly. This youth band provided a flux of brass players to alot of the senior bands in my area today.
    A few enthusiastic volunteers to start this up again is all it would take I reckon Although I appreciate with all the paperwork and jargon you have to go through its very difficult to do that.

    Making local youth bands in highly populated villages/towns is the key I reckon.. rather than one county youth band. Maybe once there are many of the smaller youth bands again a county youth band would be possible

Share This Page