The National Youth Orchestra of Wales is 70 years old today.

Happy Birthday to the oldest National Youth Orchestra in the world!!! Yes the National Youth Orchestra of Wales (affectionately known to its Alumni as “The Nash”) was formed 70 years ago today and since then, thousands of young musicians have come through its ranks and gone on to forge hugely successful careers in the music industry, both here and all over the world.

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Over the years, the orchestra has been led by  such names as Clarence Raybould,  (1945–1966), Arthur Davison (1967–1990), Elgar Howarth (1991–1995), Christopher Adey (1996–2002), and Owain Arwel Hughes OBE (2003-2010). 2011’s concert series was conducted by Takuo Yuasa. Carlo Rizzi (2012), Grant Llewellyn (2013), Jac Van Steen (2014) and Paul Daniel (2015). This year’s course, starting today in Lampeter University will be led by Carlo Rizzi, where the programme will include works by Gareth Wood (himself a former member of the Orchestra), Bartok and Richard Strauss.

I was privileged to have been one of those lucky members back in the days when it was led by the inimitable Arthur Davison and I benefited from specialist tuition from trumpet legends such as John Wilbraham and Bob Walton. These were fantastic mentors and the tutoring, experiences and grounding I had during those courses were invaluable in helping me become who and what I am today.

Long may the “Nash” continue for many, many more years and I urge you all to try to get to one of their Concerts if you can, but if you can’t here’s the Orchestra in action back in 1989. It just so happens that I was playing too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W163b4FAmiI

NYOW 2016 CONCERT TOUR:

CONDUCTOR: Carlo Rizzi

CONCERT DATES:

National Youth Orchestra of Wales:
2 August 7.30pm St Davids Cathedral
4 August 7.30pm Venue Cymru, Llandudno
5 August 7.30pm St David’s Hall, Cardiff

REPERTOIRE:
Gareth Wood A Fanfare for Our Youth
Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
Strauss Ein Heldenleben

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Happy Birthday/Pen-blwydd hapus to “The Nash”!

Andrew Jones is a freelance trumpeter and you can find out more about him at: www.andrewjonesmusic.com

Why have live music for your wedding?

It seems that anyone getting married nowadays is on a quest to find something “different”, “unique” or “unforgettable”. So, when entrusted to perform at someone’s special day and with these ingredients in the mix, there’s just a hint of pressure, both from the Bride and Groom to be and self-imposed by me (as a musician and business owner) to deliver the goods.

Leigh Court, Bristol

Leigh Court, Bristol

The Music for You Brass Quintet was recently booked to perform at Catherine and Ryan’s Wedding Ceremony and Drinks Reception. The venue was the majestic setting of Leigh Court in Bristol, where the acoustics lend themselves brilliantly to brass instruments.

The Music for You Brass Quintet

The Music for You Brass Quintet

The brief was to play some music as the guests arrived for the Ceremony, then play the Processional Music for the Bride (and stunning she looked too!), as she entered to the elegant sounds of Handel’s Air from the Water Music. Music by Gershwin and the Carpenters followed for the signing of the Register, with the rousing sounds of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom heralding the newly married couple out for the Recessional music.

Once the formal part of the day was over, we then entertained the guests during the Drinks Reception, with an eclectic mix of repertoire, ranging from light classics, to songs from the shows, operatic arias, pop songs and music from the silver screen.

During this session, whilst seated just outside the main Reception room, we were asked to move twice. “Too loud” I hear you thinking!!! Not in the slightest – in fact, we were asked to move closer each time, because the guests were gently moaning that they couldn’t hear us and wanted to enjoy the music.

Unfortunately, I was unable to grab a quick word with the Bridal couple before they and their guests departed for the Wedding Breakfast, so was unable to congratulate them personally and get some brief feedback and check that they were happy with our contribution to their special day. I naturally sent a thank you e-mail the following day and asked if they’d be kind enough to share their thoughts on our musical contribution.

In the age where, if someone doesn’t reply to a text, e-mail or voicemail within a maximum of 15 minutes (perhaps less if you’re of a certain generation!) then something’s seriously wrong!!!!!! You go through the terrible “OMG, they hated it”, “We played their most hated piece of music”, “We looked dreadful” etc.

You know that they have got stacks on their plates, even after the Wedding’s all done and dusted and they’ve probably gone on honeymoon, but you’re still on pins wanting to know whether they were happy!

Finally, after some 3 weeks after the Wedding day, an e-mail comes through as follows:

“Andrew was a pleasure to deal with from the first time I got in touch right through until after the day.  He and the musicians have an enormous and diverse repertoire and played beautifully on the day.  It created the most beautiful atmosphere on the day, so much so that I saw my new husband cry for the first time as I walked down the aisle.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.”

Needless to say, I was heady mix of relieved, ecstatic, proud of the efforts of my fellow musicians and reassured that Music for You is capable of providing its clients with “something different, unique and unforgettable”!

For more information about Wedding Music visit our web-site and to hear the Brass Quintet in action you might like to go to our You Tube page for some ideas.

Photograph by Paul Fears Photography.

Photograph by Paul Fears Photography.

 

 

 

Page maintenance

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I’m currently updating the page, so if some stuff looks a little “confused”, it’s because I am too!

Normal service will resume very soon – I hope!

A big shout-out is due to Paul Fears for his input and expertise regarding the “new look” and for encouraging me to be myself.

Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy reading the Blogs and the new look for the site.

What’s that funny looking thing sticking out of the end of your trumpet?

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I was at Llys Prês, a Cardiff-based instrument repair workshop the other day, and found myself taking a keen interest in the wide variety of tools that Denis Wedgewood had at his disposal. He patiently answered all my innocent (perhaps naïve) questions as to why that was a certain size or this was a particular shape and why he needed 3 or 4 very similar looking tools to complete a certain job, however I left the premises with no more skill; these things come under the heading of D.I.Y. – Don’t Involve Yourself, but certainly far more informed and enlightened as a result.

This then made me think about my own job and the tools that I have to use and I remembered Mrs. Wife asking me similar questions about playing the trumpet. One such question was regarding the “funny things you stick in the end of your trumpet” and what was the point of it all, so this has prompted me to explain a little to those of you who don’t know either.

These “things” are actually called mutes and their function is to change the tone and sound of the instrument, so as to create a variety of effects, moods and timbres to the music.

There are a multitude of mutes available on the market nowadays, with manufacturers constantly striving to develop unique, newer or improved products, so in the Blog I will cover the main mutes used by most trumpet players, however there will be many that I have left out due to the myriad out there.

The Straight mute – This is the most commonly used by players, but there are variations even for this type, as they can be made of metal, wood, fibre and plastic and have distinctly different sounds.

Straight Mute (Metal)

Straight Mutes (Metal) – The mute on the left is for a PiccoloTrumpet and the one on the right is a standard sized one.

Straight Mute (Plastic)

Straight Mute (Plastic)

Fibre Straight Mute

Straight Mute (Fibre)

The Cup mute – This as its name suggests, has a cup shape and makes the sound much mellower and softer. Some cup mutes have a moveable cup that slides closer to, or away from the bell of the trumpet, in order to change the tone slightly.

Cup Mute

Cup Mute

The Harmon mute – The Harmon mute is another mute where the tone can be altered, using a movable stem. The general tone is quite “nasal” and constricted and this is often used to portray a trumpet playing distantly. The further out you pull the stem, the darker the tone gets until you can actually remove it completely.

Harmon Mute (Stem in)

Harmon Mute (Stem in)

Harmon Mute (Stem removed)

Harmon Mute (Stem removed)

The Bucket Mute – This clips on to the bell of the instrument and is lined with a soft padding. This absorbs most of the brightness of tone, making the music sound muffled.

Bucket Mute

Bucket Mute

There are many more mutes, as I have already mentioned; such as the Plunger mute, the Solo-tone and a Practise Mute (designed to keep your neighbours happy when you start ripping through the Haydn Trumpet Concerto at 2.30 in the morning!), but I hope that this gives you an insight to these “things”, commonly known as mutes.

For more information about Andrew Jones and Music for You, please visit www.andrewjonesmusic.com

What music do I have for a Civil Wedding Ceremony?

Music for Civil Weddings

For many, the traditional Wedding Ceremony held in a Church or Chapel, is now longer relevant or practical for couples getting married, particularly if you have very strong thoughts on religion, or perhaps if it is your second time round.

In the past, if you decided not to go down the “traditional” route, your only option was to hold the Ceremony at your local Registrar Office, but over the last few years, there are increasingly diverse options in terms of the venues that hold licences to host Wedding Ceremonies. These can range from Hotels to Country Houses or from Lighthouses to education establishments. In fact Mrs. Wife and I were married in the Undercroft at the fantastic Cardiff Castle!

The Undercroft at Cardiff Castle

The Undercroft at Cardiff Castle

Having the Ceremony at these venues is great, as you are free to design your dream wedding, however this throws up the issue of what music you have. What does the Bride walk in to for her “grand entrance”?  Clearly there is no church or chapel organ and the only other option is the dreaded CD player or house PA (if there is one).

The latter option may be nice and cheap/free, but it has as much soul and vitality as a corpse! LIVE music however, will certainly guarantee to get the tears rolling (for all the right reasons!), the hairs on the back of your neck stood up on end and goose-bumps galore.

Brides – Regardless of whether you have a bold and triumphant fanfare, or a calm and serene entrance, you want it to be special, meaningful and most importantly – memorable! Only LIVE music can achieve this, creating the right mood and ambience for the rest of the proceedings and it will be one of the best decisions you make regarding your “big day”.

Let’s face it; the entrance of the Bride is the first and most eagerly awaited moment of the day – so make it a good one!

Needless to say, Clare (my Wife) entered our Wedding to the sounds of the Fanfare Trumpets of The Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh and the rest of the music was provided by the Music for You Brass Quintet. “Unforgettable!” Not my words, but of my new Wife and so many of the guests who attended that day.

Our Wedding Day at Cardiff Castle

Our Wedding Day at Cardiff Castle

For more details on music for your Civil Wedding Ceremony, please contact Andrew on 07973 869621 or visit http://www.andrewjonesmusic.com/weddingmusic.html

All in a day’s work. The things we musicians sometimes take for granted, but shouldn’t!

On Friday night, I will once again join my colleagues from the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh for an engagement that we undertake some  6 or 7 times each year . It’s a particular job that has been in the Band Diary for around 30 years or more and the players are now seasoned veterans – excuse the pun! – in carrying out their duties.

Within approximately an hour of the job finishing, I will join my friends in the local pub to become a part of the Welsh Nation’s passion and some might say, obsession, in watching our brave “Warriors” go head to head with other “warriors” from other countries.

The job I refer to of course, is the Welsh Rugby International fixtures at the Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium) and this Friday, Wales take on “Les Bleus” – France, in the latest round of the Six Nations Championships. In addition to this tournament, we also perform at the Autumn Internationals.

The Band is honoured and privileged to perform the pre-match music, accompanying the guest choirs in the old pot-boilers such as “Cwm Rhondda”, “Delilah” and “Hymns and Arias”, before leading the 72,000+ crowd in the singing of the National Anthems prior to the game kicking-off.

There is no prouder moment for a Welshman or Woman, than to sing “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” at the Stadium, but to be able to perform it on the hallowed turf (well hybrid turf now) stood just feet away from sporting legends, like Leigh Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones, Shane Williams, Martin Williams, Scott Gibbs and many more over the years, it is hugely special.

Millennium Stadium 2

 

Most of the locals in my pub know me (mainly because I turn into a raving lunatic, shouting at the TV for the duration of a game) and that I play in the Regimental Band, however there is never a match day that goes by, without a visitor to the pub, interrogating me to the last detail to try and prove that I “couldn’t possibly have been standing on the pitch just under an hour ago”! The security wrist-band on my ummmm……. wrist, usually clinches the deal and for the next few minutes I am quizzed with great zeal about who I saw, who I was stood near, did I get to speak to the players, what was the atmosphere like etc. etc.

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Like most members of the Band, I regard playing at the Stadium with a fairly casual “just another gig” approach, but when I see and hear other peoples’ enthusiasm for what I have just been a part of, I have to stop and take stock of how very lucky we are, to have experienced that thrill – not just once – but some half a dozen occasions each year.

We are truly blessed as musicians, to have jobs that bring opportunities, amazing experiences and memories that last for a lifetime. Just anther gig? Maybe not!

Millennium Stadium

 

The Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh performing the Welsh National Anthem – “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”/”Land of My Fathers” prior to the 6 Nations fixture versus Scotland (February 2016).

https://www.facebook.com/BBCWalesSport/videos/10153876944407114/

For further information about joining the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh, please contact (07973) 869621 or (02920) 781293

The Monday Morning Mention – Part 2

For those of you who read my Monday Morning Mention post a few weeks ago , praising the efforts of the Welsh brass bands who became National Champions, I’m going to risk sounding repetitive now, I’m going to risk sounding repetitive now – sorry! – and reiterate my sentiments, but with one slight, but significant amendment.

Whilst the focus of discussion at the photo-copier this morning, will undoubtedly be on the Welsh rugby team’s inability to see off 13-man Australia in the Rugby World Cup and the wonderful achievement of the national football team in making its first major championships in over 50 years, I will champion the cause of our wonderful brass once again and highlight the fact that Wales also starts the week with not three, but FOUR National Champions now.

Congratulations to the Cory Band who, under the baton of their conductor Philip Harper, have once again won the National title at the Royal Albert Hall, performing Thomas Doss’s fiendishly difficult work “Spiriti”.

Cory_Smallish

Having been privileged to have performed on the Contest platform as a guest player with the Band earlier this year, I have had an insight into the effort that it takes to perform at the highest level and believe me, it borders on being scary! During that intense period of rehearsals, my Wife said to me “This brass band lark is a bit obsessive, isn’t it?” Perhaps there was more than an ounce of truth in that statement, but it goes to show how much effort and commitment went in to trying to win that competition!

It would be remiss also not to acknowledge the achievements of another Welsh outfit and my former Band – Tredegar Town Band – who came 5th at the same competition. A great day for Welsh brass bands indeed.

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(Tredegar Town Band at the Royal Albert Hall, London in the 1990’s.)

So, yet another big shout out this Monday morning for the unsung heroes of Usk, Ebbw Valley, Goodwick and now Cory, who are now National Brass Champions of Great Britain, in Sections 4, 2 ,1 and Championship Sections respectively.

Rugby? What rugby match?

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(The Cory Band performing at the 2015 European Brass Band Championships in Freiburg, Germany.)

Dispelling myths and preconceptions

On Sunday 4th October, Music for You made its début as an exhibitor in the world of Wedding Fayres.

The venue was the lovely Miskin Manor Hotel, near Llantrisant (which is on my door-step as it happens), however getting to the point where I was ready to bite the bullet and “go public” as an exhibitor had taken an extremely long time. The main worry was that I didn’t have snazzy enough marketing materials, glitzy banners and corporate wear and all the things that makes a self-employed sole-trader feel small and inadequate amongst all the established “bit-hitters” in the wedding industry.

My fears thankfully were unfounded, as all my fellow exhibitors were very helpful and generous with their compliments and advice, with lots of top tips to take away for future events – yes, to paraphrase Arnie “I’ll be back!” For a first time out, I felt I managed to “keep up with the Joneses” and the feedback was extremely positive, both from the exhibitors and visitors to the Fayre.

Once I had finally set up the stand, it was then down to the serious business of engaging, pardon the pun, with future brides, grooms and extremely worried looking parents (seeing their savings being rapidly blown by their daughters!) to try to persuade them of the merits of live music for their Wedding celebrations.

My main focus, was to try to promote the brass quintet, as this has so much versatility on a number of levels, particularly the musical repertoire it can offer. The quintet comprises two Trumpets, a French Horn, a Trombone and Tuba. What struck me instantly, was that the people I spoke to instantly assumed that brass instruments were either loud, brash, “in your face” and rather uncouth for a wedding and that the “noise” would be rather unrefined to say the least.

Thankfully, I was able to persuade all of the doubters to invest 30 seconds of their time and listen to some You Tube samples, notably Pachelbel’s Kanon performed by the quintet. My reward? My reward was the look of total delight and surprise on the faces of the future brides, quickly followed by “Mum, listen to this – it’s beautiful!”

So, the as the old saying goes “Don’t knock it, until you’ve tried it” rings true and I hope that my maiden voyage at  a wedding fayre, will produce some new “converts”, who at some point in the near future will actually book us for their very special day! Even if they don’t, they will now be aware of the wide range of colours and timbres that brass instruments can produce.

For more details about Music for You and our wedding music, please visit our web-site.

The Music for You Wedding Fayre stand

The Music for You Wedding Fayre stand

The Monday morning mention

The Welsh Nation will start another working week and the hot topic around the water cooler and by the photo-copier, will be the win against Uruguay and the massive upset caused by Japan against the South Africans in the Rugby World Cup.
Whilst on a totally different “playing field” – sorry couldn’t resist that – Wales also starts the week with THREE, yes 3 National Champions , from the world of brass bands.
Big deal huh? Yes, it was a massive deal, as each band had to qualify from it’s respective Region in the UK (typically a field of 10+ competitors) and then beat around 18/19 other bands in the Finals.

The amount of personal preparation, hours of endless practice and self-sacrifice, including financial, might not be on an exact par with the rugby players -it’s certainly a lot safer, that’s for sure! – but the achievement is just as hard-earned and means the world to those involved. This is all the more remarkable, given the standards of performance achieved and the fact that brass banding is an amateur pastime.

So, a big shout out this Monday morning for the unsung heroes of Usk, Ebbw Valley and Goodwick who are now National Brass Champions of Great Britain, in Sections 4, 2 and 1 respectively. This was their Rugby World Cup and if you’re from their area, tell everyone at the water cooler and by the photo-copier, because you’ll have something extra to smile about this morning!

For those of you interested in reading more, go to 4barsrest to see what goes on in the world of banding.

The Last Week of June

This a great article by Howard Snell, discussing life after Music College and the first steps into the “real world” for a would-be musician.

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is a week when I always briefly look back. My first ‘last week of June,’ was in 1956 when my career as a musician started if only because my time as a student ceased. In truth, my career didn’t start: nothing happened. I wasn’t prepared for reality, so it seemed less than nothing, if that were possible.

Those were different days. Not the slightest advice was available or offered to the young. Only a few excerpt books were available to a would-be orchestral musician … Richard Strauss and nothing else that I can remember. ‘Excerpts’ from the orchestral repertoire did not figure in lessons except if the student took a piece in that was listed for an Academy concert, while the practice diet was a meagre ration of studies and pieces with the Haydn and one or two scraps of modern concerti thrown in. How changed things are now. I…

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