The Grimethorpe/Brassed On York Workshops held on Saturday 13 April 2013 were a resounding success with brass and percussion players of all ages and levels of ability.
Twenty-two players took part in the workshops organised by Brassed On York Ltd and arranged through Grimethorpe’s soprano cornet player Kevin Crockford. The workshops were held in the afternoon prior to Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s evening concert at the York Barbican, with students that attended the concert having the optional chance of joining Grimethorpe on stage for their encore.
Cornets were hosted courtesy of the National Centre for Early Music with Kevin Crockford (pictured below); Grimethorpe’s Shaun Crowther and Garrath Beckwith took the basses .and trombones respectively in the Lendal Rooms at the Barbican and John Watterson took the percussionists at the York Railway Institute bandroom.
‘It was a great day and I gained so much from it!’ was just one of the many enthusiastic responses that Brassed On York Ltd received in an evaluation after the event. The tutors’ advice on technique were especially appreciated: ’The tips and advice from Kevin were fantastic,’ said another cornet player, while all players remarked that the lessons in correct breathing had been particularly valuable.
At the bandroom, a young kit drummer had his first taste of playing timps and xylophone under tutor John Watterson, and found John’s own stories of learning the drums very helpful. Two other percussionists also got to try out their chops and by the end of the session the bandroom was rocking to distinctly un-brass-band like reggae beats!
Meanwhile at the Barbican workshops a relative beginner to the trombone found herself hitting top Bb under bass trombonist Garrath’s tutelage and a talented A-level music student confessed that the session had been an eye-opener: ‘It was the first time I’ve ever been taught by a proper trombonist – it really helped!’ he said.
Basses enjoyed the Shaun Crowther experience, with a youngster discovering that cheek-puffing is not required to play the tuba and another Bb bass player admitting there was still ‘so much to learn’ but that it all ‘made a lot more sense now!’
After the workshops, eight of the participants went on to join the Grimethorpe Colliery Band on stage in front of the thousand-strong audience for a ‘Brassed Off’-style finale, sitting in with the Grimethorpe players to perform Clog Dance and Death or Glory (below).
Brassed On York Ltd, a non-profit organisation that was set up to raise the profile of brass bands and, in particular, to encourage young (and not so young!) players to take up brass instruments, first held workshops at the NCEM with Grimethorpe players in 2010. You can see the footage here. As a result of that successful collaboration, the company approached Kevin Crockford again recently and he recruited the other named players to tutor the 2013 workshops.
‘The workshops were fantastic,’ said Kevin. ‘I really enjoyed myself. And it was brilliant to have some of the students from the workshops join Grimey on stage for the two encore items – well done all!’
Nearly 50 per cent of the students returned evaluation forms after the event, with others emailing to express their enjoyment. All participants that responded said they had found the workshops beneficial and felt they were value for money – and, unsurprisingly, said they wanted to do more in the future!
Brassed On York Ltd would like to thank Grimethorpe tutors Kevin Crockford, Shaun Crowther, Garrath Beckwith and John Watterson, who gave their time to run the inspirational workshops and conductor David Hirst and Grimethorpe band members for allowing the students to take part in the finale. The company would also like to express gratitude to the NCEM, York Barbican and York Railway Institute Band Section for providing venues for the workshops and to York Barbican staff for their assistance in organising the workshops at the venue and stewarding the on-stage finale.