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Band appeals for new members

Posted onPosted on 31st Jul

A police band that has kept going despite coronavirus lockdown desperately needs new blood to ensure its future.

The musicians didn’t get too brassed off with the challenges of rehearsing while social distancing – and have come together in a virtual concert hall online in a bid to find new recruits to boost their ranks.

The Nottinghamshire Police Band has been going since the 19th Century and its longest serving member is approaching his 90th birthday – but members are now reaching out using modern technology to help them stay in tune with a younger generation of potential bandmates.

They have made a new recruitment video for social media that showcases their collective talents using brass and wind instruments, including percussion – in the hope of encouraging younger members from all walks of life to join them.

In the video, they play their parts to ‘Men Of Trent’, a piece previously written for them by renowned composer and Hucknall-born Eric Coate,s who famously wrote The Dam Busters March – the theme to the 1955 British war film The Dam Busters.

Each player performed at home and filmed themselves playing before the individual clips were sent to band member and flautist Lisa Bancroft, who seamlessly knitted them together for the video with the help of her husband, Will.

Lisa, who has played in the band for about 10 years and is among those in the video, said: “We wanted to show people that you can still enjoy doing the things you love during this difficult time with a little help from modern technology.

“I was really impressed with how well everyone did and how they all persevered with the instructions they were given.

“Each of the band members had their own sheet music and had to listen on their headphones to a previously recorded piece which I’d put some click intros into so they knew when to start playing their own parts.

“They all then sent their clips to me. I’m no techno-whizz but my husband, Will, is and he taught me how to edit the footage and put the video together and get it published to YouTube for everyone to see and hopefully enjoy.

“We’re planning to perform and publish another socially-distanced piece in the future, this time without any pre-recorded piece for players to listen to, so that will be an even bigger challenge for us all!”

The band, which can trace its proud history back to the Nottingham Police Borough Band formed in about 1887, is now on the lookout for new members.

Now known as The Nottinghamshire Police Band, members currently come from all walks of life, around 30 strong on average.

The band perform a mixed genre of music from film scores and marches to classical, jazz and dance pieces.

Most of the current members are civilians, classed as police volunteers, with a small number of retired police officers and one serving Nottinghamshire Police officer also among the ranks.

The band is proud to support local and national charities by performing at fundraising events and also supports the police and wider community in Nottinghamshire, playing at a variety of events including medal ceremonies, dinner nights and concerts.

One of their annual fixtures is performing at the Emergency Services Christmas Carol Service at Southwell Minster – a tradition within the emergency services which sees the police, fire and ambulance services come together to start Christmas celebrations and take part in a traditional carol service.

The band’s longest-serving member, 89-year-old bass trombonist Len Greatorex, was just entering his retirement at the start of Covid-19 lockdown following 68 years’ service as a volunteer band member.

Now Len, who is approaching his 90th birthday, is joining other band members in encouraging new blood to join their ranks.

He said: “The enjoyment of playing and making music is known only by musicians and the best advice is to experience it to know it.

“I’ve loved playing in the band and I hope to pop into the band rehearsals from time to time in the future and keep a watchful eye on things!”

Another band member who stars in the YouTube video is trumpet player and retired police officer Adi Faulkner, who joined in 1972.

Adi, who served as a motorway patrol officer for most of his career with Nottinghamshire Police, said: “I felt really proud to be a part of the video but I found it quite challenging because you normally play your part within the band.

“We all have different acoustics in our own homes and we all had to tune up individually at home as best we could. We had to put headphones on to listen to the track and start playing at the right time.

“We’re now looking for new players to join the band for when we resume rehearsals , especially as other players leave or retire.

“We’re specifically looking for trombonists as well as French horn, euphonium, tuba, baritone sax and oboe players.

“It’s a fantastic band to play in so if you enjoy making music and would like to play in a band of 30 plus musicians performing a mixed genre of music then please get in touch.”

Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Craig Guildford said: “The Nottinghamshire Police Band are a real asset to the force.

“During their long and proud history representing Nottinghamshire Police they have supported numerous charities by performing at fundraising events as well as supporting the police and wider community in Nottinghamshire by playing at various events.

“They are an excellent band who have brought so much joy and happiness to countless people over the years and I look forward to seeing and hearing them perform again as soon as the relaxing of lockdown restrictions allows.”

New players need to be aged 16 and above, play to a reasonable standard and should bring their own instruments.

All new band members must go through a Nottinghamshire Police vetting process.

Band rehearsals are held at Nottinghamshire Police headquarters but are currently on hold during the lockdown.

The band is self-funding, with members currently paying a £50-a-year subscription to help keep them ticking over.

Uniform is provided for members when the band performs at ceremonial events.

Anyone interested in booking the band or joining as a player should email nottspoliceband@gmail.com or get in touch via their Nottinghamshire Police Band Facebook page.

Watch the band’s socially distanced YouTube video performance at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67AvUv4sVNU

Clarinettist Angela Dickason and flautist and band committee member Emma Goodman were instrumental in coming up with the idea for the video.

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