Yesterday, I participated in one of the greatest and most traditional of Banding events. The Whitsun Friday Marches. (the whits) I played euphonium with my Girlfriends Brass Band (Towcester Studio Band)
It is a most endearing festival which encourages Brass Bands of. All standards from all over the country, and sometimes, even Europe. During the whits – bands travel from village to village in the Manchester/Oldham area. From here, the bands will engage in a brief march from where they are taken to a nearby stage area. It is on the stage area where the band are adjudicated playing a March of the conductors choosing.
During Delph, one of the villages we visited, the heavens opened just as we formed up. In true Banding spirit the drums sounded and the band marched on. As the band marched on the rain never let off. It could have been a scene from an amazonian documentary. The spectators applauded and cheered and even the stewards expressed their enjoyment and support for this bands sheer dedication to their art and passion.
If that wasn’t enough to highlight what being a bandsman is all about, our coach broke down in Dobcross so the band decided this would not ruin their day out. So the drinks flowed and we stuck it out listening and supporting all the other bands as they marched and played. One band we saw consisted of a 25 strong contingent of no more than 12 year olds. Each of them playing the march without any music and by memory. The sound they made was beyond admirable! They departed their formation to the most ruptuous applause I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing at the whits. They were not the only group of youths to perform as we followed students of a county music service. All of who show so much promise for the next generation of banders.
During the course of our outing a drama occurred where one of the horn players had a domestic dispute which triggered a harmful psychological response. However, as being part of a band, I witnessed the true power of the comradery that stems from being a bandsman.
If I learned anything from my experience playing at the whits it is that there is such a fruitful abundance of life skills and experiences that can only be accessed through playing in a band of a tight cohesion. The ability to work as a team and pull through whatever is thrown at us, is such a reason that the financial abandonment of music services by the British Government is destined to create more harm than good.