When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

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Spoonbill
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When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by Spoonbill » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:02 am

Last night I went to an absolute tour de force of a brass band concert. The band consisted of people of all ages, male and female, and their glee at having found a musical home for themselves was self-evident. It left me wondering what it must've been like for CH pupils who, on leaving school, found themselves with a strong desire to carry on playing in a band or orchestra but who didn't own their own instruments and who had no money to buy one nor anywhere suitable to practise. With good-quality instruments like tubas, cellos and double basses costing thousands and thousands of pounds and with so many of us having come from low-income households, it figures that a lot of highly musical Old Blues must have parted company with their instrument-playing skills the day they left school.

Presumably the ex-choristers were able to find choirs and choral societies to perform in, but for the players of larger instruments (including pianos and organs), life must have proved immensely frustrating on leaving CH.

Has anyone here never played a note since leaving school? Do ex-orchestra members weep with frustration every time they hear classical music? And did any of our ex-bandsmen move north in order to join colliery brass bands?

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by Phil » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:46 am

I didn’t have any such access to my instrument, nor did any young OBs, whom I knew in the 1950s and 60s. One university OB friend and a good trombonist seriously considered joining the Salvation Army to allow him to continue playing. He didn’t of course and I have no idea whether he finally was able to play.

Perhaps some generous and musical reader of this Forum could consider setting up a Fund to provide an instrument, for say 10 years, to carefully selected leavers.

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by Straz » Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:39 am

I was very lucky... and I owe a lot to Malcolm McKelvey.
I'd learnt classical piano for a year or so before CH, plus flute. I wasn't that good to be honest, but stuck with it, even though I found classical music extremely hard work. It just didn't appeal to me, although I knew I had some affinity with the keyboard.
After three years at CH - and not getting any further than grade 1 - I told my dad that the lessons were a waste of time, and I'd rather teach myself.
He said OK, and I started to learn blues scales and boogie woogie.
Malcolm McKelvey turned a blind eye - and a deaf ear - to my initial efforts, kindly allowing me to rehearse on the Music School pianos, provided they weren't required by classical students.
Bit by bit I started to muster something approaching basic blues with a bit of jazz, but felt piano wasn't the correct keyboard instrument for me. An electric organ seemed a better bet.
After CH, my father kindly bought me a portable two-manual Italian combo organ. It was a present for A-levels, getting to college and so on. This keyboard served me well for a number of years, although I added a synth to it. I joined a covers band and then an indie band in London in the late 70s/early 80s.
In the late 80s, I had a renewed burst of interest, discovered the Hammond organ and joined a blues band, then formed a jazz quintet. That faded so I rejoined the blues band in the early 90s which became a soul band and then I moved on to a soul jazz quartet for nine years before forming a bluesy pop band.
In all I've played around 350 gigs, have co-released an album, and appeared at venues as diverse as London's Jazz Cafe and the Mica Club in Rome.
I'm currently having a bit of a rest, but hope to get back playing soon.
Not bad, considering I never passed grade 1.
And none of it would have been possible without Malcolm McKelvey... and my father, of course.
Paul Strange
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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by jhopgood » Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:34 pm

I left CH in 1966 and never gave a thought to continuing to play the trombone, at which was proficient, but nowhere near the standard of others who included NYO players such as Colin Sheen, Jack Springbett, Noel Abel, Paul Barnes and another, whose name escapes me. I knew my place and it was amongst the "also played".
However, in 2004, the local postmaster in the Alicante village where we have a house, knocked on our door and announced that the village was forming a band, and he had heard that I played the trombone. I tried to wriggle out but on my next trip to the UK I bought a chinese trombone for 100 euros and let them know that I was about to start practising. The following Thursday, having hardly blown a note, I was invited to a class with another pupil, surprised myself by still being able to read music and being better than a complete beginner.
That Saturday we played the first concert in an adjoining village, and before I knew it I was first trombone, occasional solist, on the board of the band, selected to be interviewed twice on local Valencian TV, and playing in all the street processions and concerts. I decided not to play in the Valencian Football stadium for personal reasons. I also bought a better trombone.
At one stage I tried to get an interchange between CH and the village band, but child security restrictions put paid to that, although a leaving CH band captain did come down and played for a week. Apart from one or two players, his standard was far superior to the rest but despite not knowing Spanish, he mixed well and certainly joined in the non musical young persons activities that take place during village fiestas.
When I joined the rest of the band was 18 and under, and although a few adults also came in, it has stayed that way, so after 10 years I let them know not to count on me for the future, as I would be travelling too much, and I gradually dropped out.
It proved to me that the standard of most CH band musicians is pretty high. My experience also helped me integrate more into the village community.
Video for sona la banda la rectoria
▶ 1:04
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpQATfKrss0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2pDrZZfTm0
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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by Spoonbill » Tue Sep 13, 2016 3:21 pm

John, is that you shown parping the trombone at 0.02 in the second video, in check shirt and body-warmer? If so, I can't help noticing that you're definitely blowing into the right end of it, so you've evidently remembered the basics of what you learned at CH. Jolly good show. No need to join the Salvation Army then, what?

Paul, do you torment your neighbours with the Hammond organ to this very day? Or do you live in a suitably isolated cottage on Dartmoor? And do you groove like the dudes Parker and Hawkshaw? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEZIjpMRDoA Please say yes.

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by jhopgood » Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:17 pm

Correct.
Unfortunately the whole programme seems to have disappeared with the demise of the Valencian TV service, so my interview etc are not available. These were just the "bloopers".
Canal Nou was a job for the boys, political animal, run for and by the PP, and left enormous debts and many people out of work. typical of the way the PP runs Valencia.
Barnes B 25 (59 - 66)

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by rockfreak » Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:39 pm

What happens to your embouchure, or whatever it's called, if you're a saxophone player, and do your lips lose their musculature (or whatever it's called) if you're a brass player? Will you ever be able to blow with the flow again?

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by J.R. » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:14 pm

rockfreak wrote:What happens to your embouchure, or whatever it's called, if you're a saxophone player, and do your lips lose their musculature (or whatever it's called) if you're a brass player? Will you ever be able to blow with the flow again ?

You can with practice.

As a bugler who played Last Post at The Retreat, I was quite proficient.

A few years ago, I was handed an immaculate bugle. My lips had completely lost their firmness and I found it extremely difficult to hit a note first time !
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by jhopgood » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:30 am

J.R. wrote:
rockfreak wrote:What happens to your embouchure, or whatever it's called, if you're a saxophone player, and do your lips lose their musculature (or whatever it's called) if you're a brass player? Will you ever be able to blow with the flow again ?

You can with practice.

As a bugler who played Last Post at The Retreat, I was quite proficient.

A few years ago, I was handed an immaculate bugle. My lips had completely lost their firmness and I found it extremely difficult to hit a note first time !
Same with me.
When they tried to persuade me into the village band, I asked them to get me a mouthpiece to see how I got on. Had one within the hour, which rather foiled my delaying tactic.
I tried on a bugle recently , but could hardly get a note out of it.
Roger Dowsett, Band captain, NYO member and first trumpeter when I was there, had an accident and was no longer able to play the trumpet to his old standard. Switched to a Tuba, which rather puts all us brass players in our place. Easier to go down the scale than up.
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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by John Saunders » Sun Sep 18, 2016 12:45 pm

I also carried my trumpet into post Housey activity. Formed an eleven piece swing band at Cambridge in 1958,after national service in the Tower of London.I made a point of swinging the Last Post just behind the Household Brigade buglers-and slightly flat! No one noticed and it was very silly.Since then I made various attempts to become an enthusiastic brass player again. However age,no lip and lack of people to play with has killed that. I am now reduced to playing stride piano on a Friday night in the Tap and Spile occasionally for the delectation of my cronies. Great fun but there should be a society for the tuning and repair of pub pianos,Yours in Jelly Roll- John Saunders.

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by rockfreak » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:45 pm

What did national service in the Tower of London involve?

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by J.R. » Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:30 pm

rockfreak wrote:What did national service in the Tower of London involve?
Beheading Anne Boleyn ??

(Taxi for JR please !)
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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National Service in the Tower of London

Post by John Saunders » Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:33 pm

I was enrolled in the Education Corps as I was medically unfit for a proper line regiment.Two perforated eardrums was not considered suitable for the Royal Artillery my first choice.As I played the trumpet and the Corps orchestra in London was short of brass players I was detached as an instructor to the Royal Fusiliers in the Tower.It was hard work trying to educate 18 year olds from the East End who had been completely neglected by the system.
Part of my duties included guard commander at the Tower on the Summer Bank Holiday.We were required to keep thousands of tourists off the parade square as it was deemed Holy! I am able to perform the Ceremony of the Keys after enough beer. I also sold programmes at the Queens Birthday Parade. Later I resettled Generals on house decorating courses as part of their resettlement facilities,taught swimming and played rugby and golf for London District.I have more tales but enough is enough. . One advantage three stripes was automatic and full regular pay for the last six months. I must have been on of the wealthiest 20 year olds around. Vale John Saunders

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Re: When You Left CH, Did You Cease to Have Access to the Musical Instrument You'd Learned How to Play?

Post by J.R. » Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:56 pm

The Ceremony of the Keys.

Jan and I have been lucky enough to have witnessed this at close hand.

"Who Goes There ?"

"The Keys !"

"Whose Keys !"

"The Queens Keys !"


Long live Britiss tradition.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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