'Come and join me in Holbeach Town Band and be part of something special'
Holbeach Town Band has been bringing music to the local area for more than 50 years, but there’s a shortage of players for the community group and a call for new members. Flugelhorn player Matthew Simons (15) describes his banding experience to explain what awaits for you if you join...
I was introduced to the brass band when my dad suggested that I try the ‘learn to play week’ back in 2012.
Having enjoyed learning ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ with other complete beginners, I decided to continue – and started attending the Saturday morning learner band along with my mum.
Banding is certainly a family affair for many, with up to three generations of the same families all performing together at Holbeach.
Slowly but surely the learner band improved and, with patient support, we found ourselves moving up to the training band, where we looked at tunes varying from popular TV themes to Russian folk.
The music was certainly testing at first, but the intimate and encouraging
atmosphere – along with plenty of practice – worked its magic.
The training band exhibited it’s dedicated yet satisfying work by playing a few numbers at the band’s music cafe. Eventually, my mum and I began to dip our toes
into main band rehearsals.
Initially we felt more than a little out of our depth playing with such capable musicians – but the awe-inspiring experience of performing as part of a large ensemble kept us coming back for more.
Soon we were settling into performing at local community events as part of the main band. And then Covid hit.
Over the lockdowns, the entire band dearly missed the friendly faces as rehearsals were that hastily cancelled. Returning to group practice after the ease of
restrictions, however, was not an easy task.
Solo horn and safeguarding officer Deborah Simpson described the adjustment as ‘very difficult,’ with new laws needing to be scrutinised and bell covers bought to prevent the spread of contaminated particles.
Furthermore, main band rehearsals moved from the band room to the WI Hall, to ensure social distancing could be maintained.
Meanwhile, many vulnerable members were reluctant to return, with the threat of coronavirus hanging over us. At the same time, young talent was leaving for university.
The double whammy of complex-yet-crucial hygiene procedures combined with declining numbers is causing huge difficulties for the band.
The disbanding of the group would be a huge disappointment, when it is so intertwined with the local community in Holbeach, being a huge part of both jolly and solemn events.
We have recently performed at the Moulton Chapel Carnival, Holbeach Jubilee celebrations, provided background music for the air cadets’ annual meal – and are always a prominent feature of Christmas festivities and Remembrance events.
Banding is such a brilliant opportunity for those of all ages to get to see different faces and get some downtime after the daily grind of work and school through an
I am also glad that the band has provided a route into other groups. The passion for music sparked by banding led me to join the All Saints’ Holbeach Junior Choir, and I soon came to be a part of the welcoming community at All Saints.
Holbeach Town Band is therefore looking for new players, to keep alive the evolving tradition for decades to come.
We perform a varied repertoire including film and telly themes, classic brass band tunes and marches and pop/rock bangers.
July 1: Holbeach Methodist Church, 7pm; December 11: St. Mary and St. Nicholas Church Spalding, 3pm
Bandroom, Back Lane, Holbeach PE12 7LN, Saturdays, 10am to noon, free
WI Hall, Wednesdays, 7.30-9.30pm, £1 per session including instrument hire
Mel Hopkin, 07743 246448, email@example.com