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DublinBass
03.03.2006, 14:05
I tried to soak in as much as I could during my first holiday season in the U.K.. Between my wife and I, we played in fourteen different performances, with five different bands (and one ensemble at my school) in the first two weeks of December before returning home to the U.S. for the holidays. It is incredible the amount of opportunities there are to play, in brass groups, during the holidays here in the U.K.. In Ohio, our Christmas concert season would typically include one Christmas concert with our brass band, one night playing at the kettles to help out the Salvation Army and we might be asked to help out at the school we teach at. It would be easy here to play one or two concerts a day if you were motivated enough (and all without woodwinds ;) !!! ) To make the most of the experience, I tried to do anything I could to help out. At the annual Welwyn Garden City Band concert, I dressed up as ‘Father Christmas’ (which is the first time I had heard that term used) and passed out candy to the little kids (only because the real Santa Claus was quite busy and could not attend).

I also caroled several times out in the cold to help raise not only Christmas spirits, but also funds for the band. I have to admit that I was quite surprised that bands caroled to raise funds for themselves. In the past, I had always gone out to help a charitable cause like the Salvation Army. However, as I have noticed thus far in the UK, money is much tighter in many of the bands because of the great expense of paying a conductor and because of the low concert fees earned by bands. As I went through the carol books I found that some of the Christmas carols I ‘knew,’ I didn’t actually know so well. Three carols come to mind that have the exact same words in both the U.S. and U.K., but different tunes: Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear and Away in a Manger. Come to think of it, there are also many Christmas tunes that we would either play in a concert (e.g. the Snowman) or I would hear on the radio (e.g. Do They Know It’s Christmas) that I had never heard before. As far as the holiday concerts go, the most noticeable difference between the UK and the States was the length of the interval. In my limited experience, it seems common to have a long interval (more than 10 minutes and closer to 20 or 30 minutes) so that the audience and band could partake in festive beverages, mince pies and other sweets.

I had never had a mince pie before and quickly learned the difference between mince pies and minced pies. It is incredible how confusing the English language can be and how much more fluent I am becoming after 5 months in the U.K. ;) Overall I have enjoyed the experience greatly. I like the comradery that the British Bands share. Many bands have holiday parties or get-togethers, while our band in Ohio is fortunate that we get our entire section (the baritenorhorns) together for a small celebration. I also enjoy (although it did take some getting used to), the leisurely approach to the interval, which allows for more interaction between band members and the audience. It is also nice to know that if I am ever in Britain for the holidays again, I can bring a horn along (or at least a mouthpiece) as there will always be someplace to play. Happy (not Merry) Christmas, PJ Herak

Sop_Or_Bass?
04.03.2006, 15:39
:hi

We're delighted that you are coming over to play with us for the Regionals and looking forward to a few band socials as part of your stay. Not sure that we can find any mince or minced pies though, but I'm sure a few pints of Old Peculier will go down very well in their place!! :guiness

New band uniform for the contest is a red wool coat with white furry trim, large red hat with white band and fluffy ball, red trousers with black belt, and black boots. Extremely large white fluffy beard is compulsory for first 10 bars of Voyage of Discovery!

:icon_cool:

Thanks again to yourself and Sean. See you next Sunday.

Neil