by Author Fiona Johnstone

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Why being involved in Brass is Back Northumberland is increasing my musical opportunities

My name is Tia and I am a participant of Brass is Back.  A Youth Music funded project in South East Northumberland, providing opportunities for students to create and be involved in both school based and community based brass bands.

My background prior to the project

Before year 3 at The Whitley Memorial First School in Bedlington I had played piano and singing lessons.  I was grade 3ish for both of these. Our family had already experience of playing woodwind, piano, singing and guitar but we had never considered brass instruments.  I did not play in any bands or ensembles and occasionally performed in charity concerts as a solo artist for my piano teacher.

My  involvement in the project

I began class brass lessons in year 3 at Whitley Memorial and I progressed quickly as I could already read both treble and bass clef.  I really enjoyed playing my brass instrument and carried on into the school mini band in year 4 and then when i changed to middle school.  I was encouraged by my parents to perform at any opportunity which involved playing a the Sage Gateshead, the Miners picnic and a joint concert with Jayess Newbiggin Brass Band where I now play since progressing with Music Partnership North. I am a member of the Bedlington Brass Community Band and transferred from cornet to Tenor Horn as there was a need for this in the band.  I recently joined the Northumberland Youth Ensemble and really enjoyed my first residential course in November. Many people have commented on how good I am on the tenor horn for my age and I really hope to sit grade 5 in the summer under the guidance of my tutor.

The impact being involved in the project has had on me and why it is so important.

I have completed my bronze Arts Award within the project and my mum is now a member of Bedlington Brass Community Band too.  My mum had played instruments at school and also had piano lessons in adulthood but was new to brass when she joined two years ago.  My Dad is especially proud to watch his wife and daughter play together at various concerts and community events.

I don’t think I would have started to play a brass instrument if Brass is Back had not started in year 3.  It has helped me make new friends in Bedlington Brass and the Youth Ensemble. Playing cornet then horn has helped me join Jayess Newbiggin band where I get the chance to compete in a Brass Band and there are some excellent players there who share their experience with me.  I love playing a brass instrument!

Tia’s parents thoughts.

Music lessons can be very expensive – especially when your child likes more than one instrument (and you have more than one child) so being part of Music Partnership North brass is back gives access to specialist tutors without the financial commitments (in the case of class lessons, school bands, Bedlington Brass, and the availability of instruments to borrow).  We pay for private lessons for Tia but this is our choice and not expected by the scheme. Being part of the bands/youth ensemble contributes to her social skills and helps her realise the importance of the commitment to others and not just herself. Being able to take part in community performances develops her confidence as a person and gives her skills for life, and potentially provides employment and career options once she leaves school.  My parents encouraged me to play instruments at her age and I still enjoy that today and Brass is Back has opened our family to a new genre of music.