Brass Band Defining Moments - Part 2
So, I said you didn't have to wait long before my second installment of brass band moments that defined me...and then I made you wait quite a while - sorry!
But here we are, let's get going!
So, let's start where we left off, which was making the transition to Flugel!
After spending 18 months with the Eccles Band, it was time to move on to pastures new and I took a Second Cornet seat at the Leyland Band where I also had the opportunity to cover Flugel at some concerts, which was amazing!
However, in September 2017, disaster struck and the mental health battle I had been struggling with, became too much and something had to give.
At the time, the right decision for me was stepping down from full-time banding.
So that's what I did and, at the time, I didn't put a time limit on it - part of me was worried that I was never going to return due to how badly I was struggling.
However, thanks to two fantastic friends, Natalie and Matt (Daffodil) I slowly started depping with bands.
During this time, I started learning how to deal with my mental health, positively, in order to perform and enjoy playing again - I will be writing about the steps I took in order for me to return to band in a future blog, if you're interested?
Finally, I returned back to banding in January 2019, on Flugel back at Eccles.
Although it wasn't an easy experience, this journey back to band defined me as both a player and a person.
I discovered that anxiety and depression do not have to hold me back in my music or my life.
Children of Sanchez
I've always loved this piece, but now it has an incredibly special place within my heart.
My first solo with Eccles upon my return was Children of Sanchez - a piece I have wanted to learn since I was about 13, but oh my days I wasn't sure if I was ready!
Slow melodies are my thing - technical playing takes a lot of work and practice for me and, I'll be honest, there was a time during the rehearsal process that I was convinced that I was never going to get this piece as perfect as I wanted it to be.
Add in the mix of dealing with nerves and old fears trying to hold me back, I was terrified that this performance was going to go horribly, horribly wrong.
There's nothing like a bit of optimism is there?
Despite my doubts, this was the first performance I can honestly say I enjoyed every single second of.
If I could have a time machine I would go back and relive this moment, it was an incredible feeling.
Getting a bit teary writing this - I'm getting soft in my old age!
This was the first major brick in the wall that helped me to build myself back from the dark place I'd been in before.
We're going to fast-forward a bit here, so strap yourselves in as we jump into the DeLorean and jump to February 2020 and my last Area contest before the pandemic.
Playing Principal Cornet for the Area for the first time since 2014, involved a lot of confidence-building once again.
A couple of weeks before the area, I had a bit of a meltdown, as my incredibly negative brain had convinced me that I couldn't handle it - which was quite rude of it, frankly!
So it was safe to say that on contest morning, I wasn't exactly a cool cucumber - I was some kind of stressed squash....panicky pumpkin maybe?
Similar to my experience playing 'Children of Sanchez', my performance at the area didn't feel real - it was like I was watching someone else.
The performance was a massive confidence boost and I was excited to see where this confidence was going to lead me.
Then Covid hit - how rude!
In August this year, I had the biggest honour I could have been given as both a musician and a friend.
I was asked by my banding mates, Matt (Daffodil) and Natalie, to not only be a bridesmaid at their wedding, but to perform a solo during their ceremony - 'First Light' By Ben Hollings.
Locking eyes with the beautiful bride whilst I was playing and having years of friendship and the adventures of The Three Musketeers flash through my head made it difficult to hold back the tears.
The flashmob of Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' performed by the masses of banders who attended, plus the bride and groom was an incredibly special moment too.
The role that music can play in your life is not to be underestimated, it brings people together better than anything else on earth.
Childhood Dream Accomplished
Ever since I was a kid watching top bands, I dreamed of sitting on a soloist seat in a Championship section band.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a brief taste of this at Leyland and it was incredible - which made me want this dream even more.
When I had my wobble, I feared that was it.
I had to build back my ability and my confidence on my return to band - I got back to my peak performance and then Covid hit.
To be honest, I thought my time had passed for this opportunity.
I really don't want to be cheesy and this is going to sound like a line out of a really soppy film - but I feel like I had to go on this journey to be where I am today.
When I got the call to audition for the Wingates flugel seat, I admit I was more than a little bit flabbergasted and it took me some time to decide if I should do it.
On the one hand, the opportunity to achieve the one thing I've always wanted to achieve with my playing was literally centimeters from reach and on the other hand, I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if I was good enough.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say!
And... I got it!
For some people, this may not be considered a big deal and that's fair enough, but it is for me.
Some kids dream to be on Broadway or play football for England or win gold at the Olympics - this is my equivalent.
It's a big achievement off my list.
The hard work has begun - here's to the start of a new adventure!