As our main summer engagements and competition season draws to a close we’re already looking ahead to next year, and with a few recent departures, we’re after some new blood for the band.
With no major changes planned for our competition sets, this is the ideal time for new players to come on board, as we focus on bringing our existing learner players on, honing our simpler sets and refreshing our repertoire.
Despite our recent victories, we still play for the pleasure of being in a band, and want to keep this an enjoyable hobby for our players, not a weekly chore that has to be dreaded!
If you’re interested in being part of the team, we want to hear from you – whether you’re an experienced player looking for a change of scenery or some more regular playing time, or if you’re a total novice without an idea of how to begin.
All we ask is that you put the hours in (there are no shortcuts to becoming a good player) and in return we’ll get you out with the band in no time.
We practice on Tuesday evenings (8pm-10pm) once a week at Chelmer Valley High School.
We rounded off an excellent competition season with a 1st place in both the Grade 4 and Grade 4 MSR at Colchester this weekend, the first time we’ve ever won our home competition!
It was a frantic afternoon of tuning, playing, catching up with old faces and finding time for the odd beer, and despite the changeable weather and short gaps between performances, we pulled together and got not one, but two winning performances.
Winning all 4 outings of our Grade 4 set this year has been a great achievement, and well done to all members of the band for their hard work over the season.
However, every silver lining has a cloud, as Brian Smith will be leaving us after 3 and half years as Pipe Major.
Since his appointment in 2012 he has constantly encouraged, cajoled and pushed the band members to be the very best that they can be, something reflected in our recent good results. Along with various improvements behind the scenes, Brian leaves us with a strong foundation to keep pushing onwards and upwards, and all the band members would like to thank him for his hard work and leadership.
We’ll be appointing our new P/Maj later in the year, but until then it’s business as usual. As always, we welcome players of all ages and abilities (we’re still on the hunt for a permanent Bass Drummer!), so whether you’re a complete novice, an experienced veteran, or are just looking to take your playing to the next level, we’d love to hear from you.
We’ll be returning to the scene of our victory next month as we take part in the Colchester Carnival on 16th July – we’ll see you there!
Following on from two good results at the quartets and mini band competitions, we had a great result at Sunday’s Jim McGinn memorial contest.
Despite missing out on the Marching and Deportment this time around, we took home 1st place in the Grade 4, Grade 4 Drums and Grade 4 MSR, as well as 2nd place in the Grade 3. An excellent result, especially as this was an indoor competition on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far.
Well done to all who attended and fingers crossed we can keep this run going at our home county competition in a month’s time. Special thanks also go to our learner drummer Paul, who not only made the trip up to spectate, but also took some excellent photos throughout the day.
Recently we were sad to see the departure of our long-standing Bass Drummer John after 20 years with the band. We’ll all miss his steady hand and great ear for rhythm, but the time has now come to find a new beating heart for our sound.
Playing the Bass may not be the most technical or glamorous of pipe band roles, but it is an absolute essential. The bass drummer controls the tempo for both pipers and drummers, dictating the feel and musicality of everything we play. As long as you have a natural feel for rhythm, it doesn’t take long to pick up the bass-ics (sorry!) and there’ll be plenty of support to help newcomers bed in.
Regular and reliable turnout to practices and engagements is ideal, and you’d need to be happy with carrying and looking after the biggest drum in the band – it’s not as heavy as it looks (after all, most of it is empty space) but if you have back trouble then it might be wise to think twice.
Whether you’re an experienced pipe band player, have any kind of marching band background, or are just an eager amateur driving your family crazy with tapping fingers, drop us a line and come down to a practice night.
Our neighbours at the Ipswich Piping Society (which includes our P/Sgts Neil & John) have organised another great special guest for their 2016 recital.
Terry Tully, ex-Pipe Major of Grade 1 band St Laurence O’Toole will be playing for an audience of pipers and bagpipe enthusiasts from across the region. Terry has been responsible for many of the band’s successes, including a historic win at the Worlds in 2010.
The recital takes place at 7.30pm on Friday 11 March, at The Holiday Inn, the Havens, 2 Ransome’s Eurpoark, Ipswich IP3 9SJ.
Tickets are £12. For more information and to reserve your ticket, click here.
Next month we’re looking forward to holding our first full training day in preparation for the 2016 competition season. As well as working on our competition sets, we’ll also be devoting some time to our learner players to get them ready for the summer season.
To give some valued external feedback, we’ll be joined by piper Roddy Livingstone alongside RAF Waddington & Halton’s D/Sgt Dan Belfield and Bass Drummer Ronnie Campbell.
The day has been organised by our Pipe Major, using funds raised in memory of Willie Allan. Willie was dedicated to teaching the pipes, and we’re sure he’d be pleased to see everyone put through their paces, although no doubt his language would be a little fruitier than that!