Some jobs are more important than others, right?

It’s always an honour and a privilege to perform the Last Post at a funeral service and today’s, which took place in a beautiful part of the Hampshire countryside, was no exception.

A Norman Church in the Hampshire countryside

When tasked to attend these engagements, it is often the case that you are unaware of the history and background of the deceased person, until you arrive at the Church or Crematorium.

Today’s funeral was for a very interesting individual indeed! The deceased gentleman was not only for a former Brigadier, but he was also a former Commanding Officer of the South Wales Borderers (an antecedent Regiment of The Royal Welsh).

His military career saw him serve in Aden, Malaya and Hong Kong, but he also was one of the troops who landed on Gold Beach in Normandy on June 6th (D-Day) in 1944.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, add in to the mix that he was also a Knight of The Realm and this made the gentleman’s story complete.

Despite all this and regardless of who the deceased person was, their rank, status in society and type of military service, they deserve the very highest of standards when the Last Post is performed.

I very much hope that this was the case and my efforts today would have met with his approval.

RIP Sir, your duty is done.

#LastPost #bugler #funeral #Military #Army

South Wales Borderers Cap Badge

For further information about the Last Post, please contact Andrew by clicking here.

Advertisements

Taking the plunge with an unknown quantity?

Booking a person or company that you’ve never worked with before is a real minefield, particularly when it comes to musicians for special events or occasions. Perhaps this testimonial from a recent client will reaffirm and convince you of Music for You‘s ability to deliver a quality service, when it’s most needed.

Music for Parties Celebrations

“Dear Andrew. From the first time that I rang you, until you left yesterday, you conducted yourself with so much respect, dignity and professionalism. Please never let that change. It was a pleasure to deal with you. I had every confidence that you would perform well……… I can’t thank you enough for performing, what was such an important thing to me. It was my last personal tribute to my Dad. You did an old Veteran proud.”

KR – Last Post (Salisbury).

There, convinced now? If so, please either fill in the enquiry form below, or call Andrew on 07973 869621 to discuss the musical requirements of your event. Music for You – it’s just that!

A lovely testimonial from a satisfied client

I received a lovely testimonial from a client yesterday:

“My daughter and I recently asked Andrew from Music for You to assist us by playing the Last Post at the funeral of her father. Andrew’s performance was phenomenal and was a great tribute to a proud ex- paratrooper. We received so much praise for Andrews contribution to the service, and feel he helped to make it truly memorable. Andrew is an amazingly talented and sincere person, and I would not hesitate to use the services of Music for You in the future.”

Nice to know when you get things right.

For further information about Music for You and the “Last Post” or music for any event, please call Andrew on (07973) 869621 or e-mail andrew@andrewjonesmusic.com

Don’t shoot the messenger – the poor old Trumpet player always gets it “in the neck”!

Today’s blog gives a brief insight to the curious use of the Trumpet, both in conveying important messages to others and how it’s use has become iconic and symbolic for one particular European City.

In 2008, I was fortunate enough to be the Musical Director for the Greater Gwent Youth Brass Band’s Tour of  Poland. This was a pretty ambitious project, involving not only the Brass Band, but also the County Symphony Orchestra and a Chamber Choir. This amounted to a travelling entourage of around 150 students and staff!

The Ensembles performed at a variety of locations in Poland including the Church in Zakopane, nestled in the beautiful Tatras mountain region, which was built as a gesture of thanks to God, for saving the life of Pope John Paul II after the assassination attempt in 1981.The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Zakopane OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In addition, our Tour took us to the beautiful City of Kraków and the amazing Church of St. Catherine’s, with its high ceilings and ornate decor, especially the breath-taking Altar and Rood Screen. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

St. Catherine’s Church, Kraków

Whilst in Kraków one day, I was walking across the main square in the City, when I saw a group of tourists gathered and looking up in the air at something. Being of a somewhat nosey, sorry, curious disposition I also stopped to see what was causing so much interest. Everyone seemed to be looking at a Church Tower (which I later learned was Saint Mary’s Church. Nothing much seemed to be happening and people were regularly checking their watches, so having given up hope of anything exciting happening, I was about to walk off, when one of the group shouted out and pointed at one of the windows in the Tower.

In the Tower window high above, stood a figure who looked down at the ever-increasing throng and gave a quick wave. What happened next was totally unexpected however. He suddenly went out of sight only for a trumpet bell to suddenly appear out of the window and the sounds of a very lyrical but simple melody were heard wafting over the square. It was quite mesmerizing and continued for nearly a minute, only to stop abruptly mid-phrase! Most of the curious audience (including myself) were highly baffled by all this, but before we could even question what we had just witnessed, the whole process was repeated but this time, from another window from the Tower. In fact, this occurred on four separate occasions, in quick succession, each time with the melody ending abruptly at the same musical point (or non-musical place if you were looking for a logical ending to the tune, as I was!).

Had I done my homework prior to going to Kraków however, or consulted a tourist guide-book, I would have learned that this tradition has been in existence for centuries, with a variety of stories, legends and myths regarding it’s origin and meaning.

First of all though, let’s deal with hard facts. The melody or “call” is known as Hejnał Mariacki (pronounced “Hey-now Mahr-yahts-kee”), meaning “St. Mary’s Dawn”; also called the Kraków Anthem). This is a traditional, five-note Polish melody which is played every hour on the hour, 365 days a year. Such is it’s importance in Polish culture, the mid-day performance is broadcast via radio to all of Poland and the world.  In fact, 71 years ago this week, the  Hejnał was played by a bugler from the Polish Army to announce the Polish victory in the Battle of Monte Cassino on 18 May 1944. It is unclear who wrote it, but Civic records actually refer to it officially as far back as 1392 and was originally played by the town guard to warn of fires or signal the end of a guard watch. Since the 19th century however, the Hejnał has been performed by active members of the fire brigade, who currently provide at least four different buglers serving in shifts at the tower. Despite its apparent monotony, this duty is carried out with great pride and precision by each trumpeter and is regarded as a hugely prestigious task, with some players having given 30+ years continuous service performing it.

Now for the conjecture bit. I will let you do your own research and decide which you believe is the most credible version, however some state the tune is performed in four different directions in honour of the King of Poland, the Mayor and the Bishop, the citizens of Kraków and finally the peasants/visitors Kraków. My favourite version however, is that during the first Mongol invasion of Poland (yes they got around a bit those guys!) of 1241, troops led by one of Genghis Khan’s Generals – General Subutai – were attacking the City and a sentry on a tower of St Mary’s Church sounded the alarm by playing the Hejnał. Thanks to the sentry’s vigilance, the gates were closed before the invaders were able to ambush the city. The poor trumpeter, however, was shot in the throat and did not complete the anthem, hence the reason for the abrupt ending to each performance!

A more recent explanation for the sudden ending may stem from the sudden death of the performer, whilst on duty at midnight on 7 July 1901. Whichever story you might wish to believe, the Trumpet has shown its versatility once again, in not only bringing musical pleasure to so many, but also in being a method of communication, an early warning system and a very potent tourist attraction. Who says live music is for the elite? Hejnał mariacki played by a trumpeter from the tower of St. Mary’s Church (Kościół Mariacki) in Kraków.

P.S. – When the postman delivers the Gas bill next time, don’t shoot the messenger, he’s only doing his job!

St. Mary’s Church in Kraków. The Hejnał is performed 4 times on the hour every hour from the Tower on the left. HELLOMOTO

If you require a Bugler or Trumpeter for an event, please visit Andrew Jones (Music for You)

Make someone’s day, by writing them a testimonial

I’ve just got in from a meeting and started ploughing my way through the myriad of e-mails offering me every Christmas bargain going, the scam asking me to deposit all my life-savings in some off-shore Bank in Liberia and the obligatory mail, offering me various medical products that will supposedly endear me to my Wife even more than my already successful Marriage could ever imagine!

In amongst all this detritus however, was an e-mail from a Funeral Director that I had recently worked with, where I performed The “Last Post” for an ex-Comrade’s Funeral Service.

It basically went as follows:

“Good afternoon Andrew,

I felt that I should write to you regarding the funeral of Mr. M.  The respect you gave to this service was first class. The family wanted to give their father a day he would be proud of, which included the Royal British Legion and standard bearers, the Union Flag on the coffin and as they said, the icing on the cake you.

He was very proud of his country and his war record and as the family said you brought everything together. They said to pass on their heart-felt thanks to you.

The older men at the service all said the same thing ‘note perfect’ – the only place you hear the Last Post played like that is at the Cenotaph.

You have given the family a wonderful memory which will last a life time.

On behalf of myself and the family and all the staff who had the pleasure to hear you play, I thank you so very much and can’t wait to work with you again.”

This simple gesture took only a matter of minutes to do, but has left me glowing with pride and satisfaction, knowing that I gave my best for that old Soldier, his family and all the other people present and that my services were noted, valued and hopefully will be remembered for future opportunities with that Funeral Director (and others by recommendation).

If you have received good service from someone today, write a short testimonial and put a smile on their face. It will be the best Christmas gift you can give them!

For more details about Andrew Jones please visit www.andrewjonesmusic.com

Photography by Paul Fears

 Christmas-Trumpet

Spare a thought for the Bugler performing the “Last Post” on Remembrance Sunday

Last Post - 5RW Memorial

This Sunday will once again see many of us commemorating Remembrance Day at Parades and Memorial Services up and down the country.

One of the integral parts of that Service, will be the playing of the Last Post preceding the 2 minute Silence. For many, this is the most poignant part of the proceedings, bringing all sorts of emotions to the surface, from even the most robust and stiff-upper-lipped of characters, as memories of loved ones and fallen Comrades, as well as thoughts of current serving personnel in the Armed Forces are given heightened awareness.

I have been honoured and privileged to have been asked to play the Last Post at numerous Parades, Memorial Services and Funerals during the last 30+ years and since joining the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh, have a heightened awareness of its relevance and meaning to members of the Armed Forces and civilians alike.

_MG_9670

For those who understand music theory and a little about brass instruments, the Last Post is merely a C Major Arpeggio (consisting of 5 different notes) usually played on either a Bugle, a Cornet or Trumpet. There are no valves (buttons) required and the music is such, that it can be performed by a player of around Grade 5/6 standard or above.

Understandably, the Last Post is something which is sorely missed if not performed, however can become the target of all kinds of criticism and at its worst, ridicule, if not played absolutely perfectly. “But it should be played, perfectly!” I instantly hear you cry.

Trust me when I say that anyone who is tasked with playing this short, simple piece of music, wants to play it to the best of their ability and get it note-perfect. The onus of representing your Village, Town, Royal British Legion Branch, local brass band, school band etc. is one which will have given many a Bugler sleepless nights this week, knowing that every note represents so much, to so many people and is the “ultimate tribute” to those who have fallen in conflicts.

Many of these Buglers however, are not professional musicians and are volunteers who are “doing their bit” for their local community. There may be instances where they have been “volunteered”, owing to nobody else being available, someone being taken ill at the last-minute, or nobody was brave enough to stand up and be counted and do it in the first place.

One hopes that the weather will be kind on Sunday, but even then, putting a freezing cold metal mouthpiece – some use plastic, but it never feels the same for the player – on lips that are tight from the cold and from hanging about waiting to play, doesn’t make for ideal preparation. Miss just one note and you can sense everyone wince and start inwardly tutting about it.

For a variety of reasons, there are less Buglers being available each and every year to perform at parades and the demand, sadly far exceeds the supply. Please be assured that your Bugler will try their damnedest to give as fitting and respectful a tribute as they can, but if it’s not quite note perfect, don’t be quick to criticize, but be thankful that you had a  Bugler there at all, to add that something special to the Memorial Service. Buglers, we salute you!

“We will remember them”.

For further details regarding the Last Post, please visit my website

Poppies (1500x1064)