Little did I know that my email to Eynsford Concert Band (ECB) in June last year; 2018, would lead to a renewed interest in the world of music making and a fulfilled social life.
Having played in the same concert band for many years and with a change in personal circumstances, my loss of interest in playing had crept up on me.
My family and I had heard ECB perform year after year in Swanley Park at the 1812 outdoor concert, so a nudge in the right direction from my husband was all I needed to find out more about the band.
I was lucky enough to be invited along for a trial period of four weeks to see if the band was right for me and if I was right for the band. It was, I was, and the rest is history…
The band’s committee and musical director work hard to ensure that ECB is a dynamic concert band with plenty of variety of what they play and where they perform. Players are encouraged to have a say in what music is played and are regularly asked for suggestions which are always considered and included when appropriate.
Within weeks I’d been invited along to a joint birthday bash for our musical director, Mike and our longest serving clarinet player, Andy. It was held at a pub in Eynsford and the atmosphere of the evening was amazing. Members of the band along with the birthday boys on their clarinets entertained us with ‘Strangers on the Shore’. We all had hysterics when a ditty was performed for Mike based on the song ‘My Way’ which just showed me that the band really are at ease with each other and their boss!
The 1812 concert in Swanley Park that year was a special experience in more ways than one. Having attended to hear ECB play year on year, it was great to join them this time. Unfortunately the weather was not on ours, the Rock Choirs’, the audiences’ or the organisers’ side with torrential rain drowning out the event. However, we proved to be a hardy bunch, staying through to the fireworks which, despite the sodden conditions, did actually work.
The highlight of my first year came at the end of the year with a joint concert alongside the Band of the Grenadier Guards, the band most commonly seen performing at Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace. During our joint rehearsals I got to witness the ceremony from inside the barracks, which was an experience I will never forget. It is thanks to Mike Smith (ECB’s Musical Director), that these collaborations and experiences can go ahead. He is, after all, Major Michael Smith – Director of Music of the Band of the Grenadier Guards, no less!
Earlier this year; 2019, members of the band held a charity quiz night in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. An amazing £1000+ was raised, showing how committed the band are to supporting their chosen charity of the year. What was brilliant for me was that I won the quiz with my team; the ‘new lady’ had made her mark!
Easter time this year provided for another exciting time for the band with the Koninklyke Fanfare De Werkmanszonen band visiting us from Riemst, Belgium for a joint concert. The concert was a huge success and it was great to play together in a massed bands concert finale. We certainly made some new friends and have been invited back to their home town to share the experience with their community.
I am now looking forward to our trip to Austria this summer, where the band will be performing some afternoon and evening concerts. There will also be a lot of enjoying ourselves socially, including a trip to Salzburg and a sponsored walk, again in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, already planned.
So, I have learned that ECB is a great band for experienced players. They expect a fair level of commitment from their players which results in excellent performances which are enjoyed equally by their audiences, players and even their conductor.
Two hour rehearsals are held between 8 and 10pm each Tuesday evening and for each concert there is a dress rehearsal.
I experienced a warm and encouraging welcome into the band. As with any new joiner in an organisations, there’s a level of intrigue and trepidation, which is only to be expected. Despite being outside my comfort zone, I faced this by throwing myself into the social side of things and I haven’t looked back. There is no judgement if socialising isn’t your thing or life gets in the way….many just come to play!