Returning to your roots and giving something back.

Going back to your roots, whether it is researching your family tree (as I have recently started doing), visiting your old school or driving past a former home, I always find to be a rather surreal experience. It doesn’t matter whether some or all of the people have long gone, there still remain some sights, sounds and even smells that that can trigger a myriad of deep-seated memories, which have lain dormant for countless number of years, transporting you in an instant back to a bygone age.

My “blast from the past” has been a return to both my spiritual and musical roots. One might argue that they are one and the same, as they are inextricably linked.

I was brought up in the small village of Llangyndeyrn in the Gwendraeth Valley – a very rural part of Carmarthenshire, Wales. So rural in fact, that the last bus into Carmarthen (5 miles away) and any semblance of civilisation, left the village at 5.05pm. Even worse was the last bus back left at 5.45pm, thus curtailing any potential fun and nighttime revelry, before it had even started!

Bearing in mind that the local Primary School only had a total – yes total! of 14 pupils at the time I attended it, one had to be fairly creative as a result, when it came to childhood “recreation” and “entertainment”.

My good luck and salvation was music. Both my parents were extremely musical with my Mum having sung in the London Philharmonic Chorus, under the great maestros such as Beecham, Boult and Barbirolli. Dad meanwhile was a keen singer too, having sung on the Eisteddfod circuit, with a certain degree of success too. In addition to this, he also played in the local brass band – Crwbin Silver Band (The difference between Silver and Brass I hear you ask? Silver was deemed posher, as it was a more valuable commodity than brass, therefore gave the band a tad more credibility).

So at the age of 7 and with a limited number of friends in the village to fulfil any meaningful sporting activities – cricket or rugby played by 3 people has its limitations you know! – and with a suitable number of trees climbed (and fallen out of), one looked to new horizons and took the obvious choice of learning to play an instrument in the local band. I was given a cornet to play. Like Father, like Son.

Lessons commenced, with my first teacher being my Uncle Stan, who also conducted the Band. Although I viewed him more as a grandfather figure, he was certainly no soft-touch and ensured that all who attended behaved and put in some hard work each rehearsal. Hymn tunes were the first melodies attempted once we had “mastered” enough notes and my first public performance was on the hymn “Hursley”, quickly followed by “Whitburn”.

Opening new bandroom

Stan Jones (pictured left) who was my very first brass teacher. He is pictured at the opening ceremony of the new band room in Crwbin.

Much practising and hard work followed over the next couple of years and this was eventually rewarded with “promotion” to the full senior Band. Now things got serious as rehearsals were held 3 times a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons if memory serves me correctly. Hard to imagine a Championship Section Band attempting that sort of commitment nowadays, not to mention a Fourth Section Band, but it certainly beat 1-a-side cricket and falling out of trees, so this was my pathway to a lifelong musical journey. No chance of getting bored now!

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Yours truly sat in front of the Bass drum. Stan and my Dad are either side of the Drum, with my Cousin Julian in the back row (6th from right).

So, back to the reason for the blog. Having started my musical journey some cough, splutter, ahem years ago – okay, okay it was 45 years ago, happy? It was a huge privilege, buzz and pleasure to be asked back to the Band as a guest conductor a couple of years ago, with the working relationship getting stronger especially over the last few months, as the previous Musical Director had moved on to pastures new.

The return to the old band room where it had all started did indeed reignite all those memories with a sensory overload to boot. Apart from many friends who are still members in the Band, my cousin Julian (Stan’s son) also still plays, so a stronger link from past to present you couldn’t wish for. Pictures of family and friends (and one or two of me) on the wall, as well as memorabilia from times past, the view of the Gwendraeth Valley down to my home village, not forgetting the “Welshness” of the surroundings, where Welsh is still the main language spoken most of the time. Something I rarely get a chance to do even though I still live in the Principality.

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Crwbin Silver Band c. mid 1960’s. (Back row 4th from left is my cousin Julian, centre front row in the bow tie is my Uncle, Stan Jones (Bandmaster) and on the right hand end of the front row is my Father, Morley).

Imagine my delight then last weekend (03.08.19) when the Band were crowned 2nd Champions at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Llanrwst. This was a true return to my roots in every sense, allowing me the opportunity of giving back and thanking the organisation and some of the people who helped nurture me into the person that I am today.

Diolch Seindorf Arian Crwbin.

Thank you Crwbin Silver Band.

National Eisteddfod Llanrwst 03.08.19

Crwbin Silver Band – 2019 National Eisteddfod 2nd Section Champions

For more information about Andrew Jones and Music for You, please visit http://www.andrewjonesmusic.com  Contact andrew@andrewjonesmusic.com or 07973 869621.

Music for You – it’s just that!

 

Is there any point in attending networking events? Assume at your peril!

Music for You – Networking

My point then? Well, apart from an impassioned, informative and extremely enjoyable speech by Tim, who spoke of his own difficult personal journey (dealing with prejudice and bullying) and his love for the Creative Arts, here are a selection of  people who I met that evening:
Person A – I already knew and had done some business with previously, where he had provided my marketing materials
Person B – was an accountant who used to play a flute and was a prospective player for the Royal British Legion of Wales, whom I conduct
Person C – A Chartered Surveyor who previously played a brass instrument and we shared mutual friends and colleagues
Person D – was MD of a Commercial Finance Company, who had financed a fleet vehicle for a band that I have worked with and we shared a number of acquaintances
By the way, Tim, as well as being a singer and conductor also used to play a brass instrument with  brass band that I used to conduct!
So, next time you ask yourself whether attending a networking event will be worth it, or whether you will have anything in common with anyone in the room, think hard before answering! Remember the old saying “To assume, is to make an ASS of U and ME”!
Music for You provides quality live music for all types of Corporate Events. For more  details, please contact Andrew on 07973 869621 or andrew@andrewjonesmusic.com

Mozart – pure genius or a freak?

On this day (October 29th) in 1787, hours before the first performance of his opera “Don Giovanni” is to be given, Mozart is reminded that he is yet to write an Overture. He duly instructs his Wife to serve him punch and tell him fairy tales throughout the night, until the work is complete.

“The ink was hardly dry on some of the pages when they were placed on the desks of the orchestra” – Wenzel Swoboda (Double-bassist in the orchestra).

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Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Salzburg Festival 1954)

The tools of the trumpeter’s trade

In one of my recent blogs, I wrote about the different types of mute that a trumpet player has at their disposal, in order to create different sounds and timbres.

It therefore makes sense to develop this theme and write this time about the vast array of instruments used and needed by trumpeters nowadays.

Today, in the highly demanding and competitive world of music, the modern trumpeter is required to turn their hand to as many different musical styles and genres as they possibly can master (or get away with!) and like any craftsman, needs a fairly sizeable box of “tools” that can facilitate this.

Bb Trumpet

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Pictured – Eclipse Bb Trumpet in brushed gold

The main instrument that you’ll find all trumpeters playing all over the world, is the Bb (B flat) trumpet. This is what the vast majority of players start their musical journey on and such is its versatility, that it is used in all ensembles and styles of music, ranging from classical to jazz, and chamber music to pop and function bands. There are of course huge varieties of Bb trumpets, in terms of bore size and finish (lacquer, silver plate, raw brass, gold etc.) and this is down to player preference and budget ultimately.

It’s once the player gets to a certain level of proficiency and starts diversifying in terms of the range of styles of music that they perform, that the instrumental requirements and choice of instruments by the individual player, start to get interesting.

D/Eb Trumpet

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Pictured – Stomvi Elite D/Eb Trumpet in Silver Plate

The next instrument that many aspiring students will graduate on to will be the D and/or Eb Trumpet. This instrument is a 2 in 1 usually with interchangeable bells and slides and being a smaller instrument is the choice of kit for performing higher range repertoire and where a brighter sound is required. This would be particularly handy when performing works by Handel or Bach in an orchestra, or for soloists who are taking on the challenge of the Haydn, Hummel or Neruda Trumpet Concerti.

Flugel Horn

Pictured – Vincent Bach Flugel Horn in Silver Plate

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This instrument is exactly the same length as a trumpet, however with the bore being a conical shape and much wider, the sound is much mellower. You will usually find this played in a brass band (as I do in the Regimental Band of The Royal Welsh), but this is also found in big bands and jazz combos and is a popular choice for jazz soloists wishing to showcase a more lyrical, silky sound typically in a ballad.

Piccolo Trumpet

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Pictured – Stomvi Elite A/Bb Piccolo Trumpet in Silver Plate

The piccolo trumpet is the baby of the family and plays the very highest notes in the register. This is often the choice of instrument, when the range exceeds what the D/Eb can comfortably achieve and is fiendishly difficult to master if not played on a regular basis.

It almost always has 4 valves nowadays and is pitched in A or Bb and the fingerings for each note are played an octave (8 notes) lower than written on the music.

Tunes you might have previously heard played by a Piccolo Trumpet would be the trumpet solo from the Beatles hit “Penny Lane” and the theme music to the Champions League football, Antiques Roadshow and “Brideshead Revisited” programmes.

Bach’s B Minor Mass and Brandenburg Concerto No.2 and Handel’s “Trumpet Shall Sound” from Messiah and “Let the Bright Seraphim” from Solomon are just a few orchestral pieces that would demand the use of a “Picc”.

One of the greatest exponents of the piccolo trumpet, was French virtuoso Maurice André whose mastery of this instrument is the bench-mark and reference point for all aspiring trumpeters around the world. As with all experts in their field, he makes it all seem so effortless!

C Trumpet

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Pictured – B&S Challenger C Trumpet in Lacquer

The C Trumpet is the closest relative (in size) to the Bb trumpet and was historically the “weapon” of choice of American trumpeters in orchestras, however this is not so much the case nowadays perhaps.

It’s a versatile instrument which is popular for using in contemporary orchestral and chamber music, where a smaller bore is required to cover a greater range and also makes playing in certain key signatures a little more user-friendly. With many orchestral trumpet parts needing to be transposed (that’s another Blog for another day), the C sometimes facilitates easier transposition too.

Rotary-valve Trumpet

All the above instruments use piston valves to obtain the notes, but the Rotary Valve Trumpet has valves like the French Horn.

These trumpets would typically be seen in the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, plus other types of wind ensembles in those countries.

So now you know why trumpeters often look as if they are moving house, as opposed to going to a gig. Thanks once again for reading my blog and if you’ve enjoyed it, please share and drop me a line with brass and trumpet related topics that you’d like to hear more about.

For further information about Music for You, please visit my website

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Pictured – (L-R D/Eb Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet, Bb Trumpet)

All photography by Paul Fears Photography (except C Trumpet & Flugel Horn pictures)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.