top of page



Sunny Second Place

Performance to be proud of. Photo from 4barsrest

Performance to be proud of. Photo from 4barsrest

The plan was to write and post the retrospective of the Second Section National Finals Contest, the day after (poor planning, Liv). However, the effects of being in a band who celebrated coming Second in one of the biggest contests of the year had left me rather….let’s go with tired… for quite a few days. Then, all this weekend, I had a workshop with Foden’s Youth (which was marvellous and a story for another time) and then I got the flu, which turned me into Rudolph the red-nosed snot monster (sorry, bit too much information?). So basically I need to plan my posts better (it’s all a learning experience after all) and quarantine my younger brother when he is infected with the plague. Anyhoo,  a lot of sleep and a truck of Nurofen (other painkillers are available) later, I’m excited to tell you how Eccles smashed the competition (in my most humble and modest opinion) to achieve Second Place at this weekend’s contest!


If you do one thing today…click to listen, you can thank me later…

So, on the 18th September we all individually made the journey down south, to the land of horse racing and expensive pints. My journey was accompanied by a three hour energy-boosting cocktail of cheesy tunes*, which consisted of most of the Grease  2 soundtrack (if you haven’t watched it, drop everything you’re doing and watch it), Queen, The Spice Girls and the ‘Finale’ from Disney’s ‘ The Lone Ranger’  (in which I discovered my hidden (and slightly naff) conducting talents- Marin Alsop, I am not).  On arrival we had a short rehearsal in a church, where my brain had seemed to be affected by the long journey (and possibly slightly rotted through the amount of garbage tunes I had binged on) and thus I was slightly disappointed with my performance to say the least. This normally wouldn’t have had a massive impact, however last year I left the national finals stage feeling disappointed with my performance- a feeling that is worse than any comment an adjudicator could give me, and I feared I was going to have the same feeling  when I walked off stage this year- oh the joys of being your own worst critic.  However a duel in a Mcdonald’s drive-through between two Eccles Borough carpools in an attempt to get their team’s food first (we’re a mature band honest!), a pep talk from our MD Mareika and Ruth (the lovely lady who I have to thank for letting me have the flugel seat and supporting me since I joined the band, from the stress of my A levels, to my performance nerves and through this transition from team cornet to team horn) and a pint with my lovely bandmates,  left me feeling happier and very excited for the performance.

*Songs mentioned will be linked at the bottom of this post (you’re welcome).


Contest morning arrived and I woke up at the glorious time of 6 am (which on a Saturday should be made illegal) and I waited for the pit of dread in my stomach, accompanied by nausea which always happens on the morning of a contest….and I waited….and waited…and it never came. No shaking, no tightness in my chest, no nausea. I felt focused and….excited?! Actually, genuinely excited. I even had breakfast and still didn’t feel nauseous- small thing I know, but it’s nice when you can have a full English and not have to worry about seeing it again because your nervous system is having a contest day malfunction. I was even enthusiastic enough to sing a few verses of Let It Go and the Duck Song (another one you have to listen to if you’ve not already) with Team Horn at the back of the coach, which I’m sure everyone appreciated at 9 am on Saturday morning. Ok, I admit I had a slight wobble between getting off the coach and entering the warm-up room, as the memories of last year flooded over me, but a 10 minute wobble is absolutely nothing to what I have felt in the past- so this was going pretty well. Backstage I felt like a horse at the starting gate (apt considering the contest venue was a racecourse), I wanted to get on stage as quick as possible, not so it was over quicker, but to see if this was the performance where I actually enjoyed myself as opposed to panicking all the way through.

Ready to go! Two members of Team Horn and our lovely MD Mareika Gray. Photo from 4barsrest.

Ready to go! Two members of Team Horn and our lovely MD Mareika Gray. Photo from 4barsrest.

Well? I can honestly say (and this is not because I want this post to have a Disney ending where everything is hunky-dory) it was the most enjoyable performance I have ever had on the contest stage. I felt in control of my playing, my little solos were exactly as I wanted them to be, I wasn’t ruled by nerves and didn’t want the performance to end. The piece- ‘The Snaring of the Sun’- (click here to read my review of it- shameless advertising, I know) was brought  to life in vivid colour, with wonderful expression and drama, which was praised by the social media covering the contest. I was so proud of my band, they played superbly (and I know I’m biased, but frankly I don’t care) the musicality from our soloists (and I’m not including myself in that, that’s for others to decide) was outstanding and blummin’ tough to beat, in my humble opinion.

I came offstage absolutely buzzing with a grin on my face big enough to make a Cheshire cat jealous…which I’m sure will be reflected in the band portraits we had taken. I was proud to be the representative who accepted the trophy from the composer himself (who had much praise for our performance…and how well little old me played… apologies it was quite a proud moment…I’ll get back to the point). How did we celebrate? In true Eccles style, Cheltenham didn’t know what hit em’ ( and neither did my head the following morning when the effects of the night before kicked in).

Second place smile- Me, Stephen Roberts and a very lovely trophy that was definitely not filled with rather expensive champagne that evening...

Second place smile- Me, Stephen Roberts and a very lovely trophy that was definitely not filled with rather expensive champagne that evening…

In short, I came away from Cheltenham with the highest ranked second section band in England and the second highest ranked second section band in the UK (not bad eh?), but more importantly, a performance that will stay with me for years. I feel that this has been a turning point in my playing (as you will see in my post about the Foden’s Youth weekend extravaganza…when I get round to writing it) my nerves, although not fully conquered, are becoming more and more under my control, which makes me excited for future performances. It’s experiences like this that make me happy and proud that I chose to get involved with brass bands- there is nothing in this life (not even beer) that makes me happier than when I come off stage feeling proud of my own and the band’s performance and then celebrating it with the wonderful people I had the privilege of sharing that stage with.


Useful Links


As always if you have any questions or comments, don’t be shy! Comment below or drop me an email.

Send all queries, article/vacancy requests to:

5 views0 comments


bottom of page