Making music fun in east anglia

History

Martlesham Brass was formed on 13th September 1996. In response to a great demand from brass musicians in the Martlesham area an organisation was set up with an original membership of 26 musicians and three Bandleaders. The idea behind the group is to provide an opportunity for people in and around the Martlesham area to learn to play brass instruments at minimal cost.

At the first meeting an Steering Committee was elected. This comprised of the Chairman of the Band, Secretary, Treasurer, Bandleaders, Publicity Officer and several Parent and junior Player Representatives. As fundraising is a major issue in such an organisation we also decided to form a Fundraising Committee.

Initially we had very few instruments and no music to play. This was a problem which had to be overcome quickly. Three members of the band were kind enough to lend us £1500 which bought 7 reconditioned instruments. Wantage Silver Band, who had recently received a lottery grant, very kindly agreed to loan Martlesham Brass fourteen old instruments free of charge which we later bought. Pieces of music were loaned to the band from the East Anglian Brass Band Association, as well as being donated by individual members and their parents.

On 5th October 1996, three weeks after our inaugral meeting, Martlesham Brass performed at it's first engagement. We are very keen to be at the centre of the local community and to this end we played at the opening of the Harry Higgins Play Park on Martlesham Heath. On the 30th October we performed on BBC Radio Suffolk in order to publicise the formation of the group and encourage people to come along.

Our 23rd November we staged our first major fundraising event - an 8 hour 'Sponsored Concert'. This was a tremendous success and managed to raise over £1700 for our rapidly growing organisation. We had also gained the support of many local businesses and in November we received a donation from BT to buy sweatshirts for the younger members of the band.

Martlesham Brass performed extensively in the weeks leading up to its first Christmas. As well as playing at local supermarkets, Gorseland School, Aldeburgh and Martlesham Village Square the band went out carolling around the local area every night.

We launched Martlesham Brass on the Internet on 5th January 1997.

In February 1997, Martlesham Brass held it's first AGM at which it adopted its constitution and elected its President, Administrators and the members of the General and Fundraising committees. It was decided that both committees would meet once a month. In the same month, we held our first workshop day - a day of intensive tuition on all aspects of banding, from deportment to marching practice. This culminated in a solo contest adjudicated by a local brass teacher and accomplished musician, Mr John Alderton.

We had now managed to obtain the backing of more businesses in the local area and in March 1997 the local electricity generators, Sizewell A & B Power Stations, donated £400 to Martlesham Brass towards the cost of a cornet. This was soon followed by major grants from both Suffolk Coastal District Council and Martlesham Parish Council. Since then, we have received many donations from smaller businesses and groups in the area for which we are very grateful. One person even donated his own trombone!

Martlesham Brass held it's first major concert in March 1997. This was a free concert to thank the local community for their support and the band performed a variety of music to an audience of well over a hundred. April 1997 saw the band engaged for it's first marching job, leading the Ipswich Scouts through the streets of Ipswich on St. George's Day. This was a job very well done by the band for which we have received repeat bookings ever since.

In May 1997 part of the band competed in the youth section at the Spring Festival of the East Anglian Brass Band Association. Although we didn't win the event we managed to impress and received a number of very encouraging comments from well established bands in the area.

During our first summer season, we performed at 12 school and village fetes as well as our own Village Day. Our birthday concert on 20th September 1997 marked the end of a very hectic and successful first year.

Since our formation in September 1996 we have grown from an original 26 musicians to 115. We have now got 6 Bandleaders and Instructors and a very strong training structure. Due to the dramatic increase in numbers we have had to relocate our main Friday practice to larger premises and have recently started to hold additional practices on Wednesday evenings at a local primary school. As far as the musical ability of the band goes, the standard of performance has improved beyond all recognition. Both traditional brass band music and more modern popular arrangements are being performed. We have also arranged a number of pieces of music ourselves in order to ensure each section of the band is encouraged to play more difficult parts and so improve.

No previous experience is required to join Martlesham Brass - all we ask for from our members is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Beginner players are admitted each half term as part of a beginners group. Through careful management of our resources, we try to ensure that new players are provided with an instrument within a few weeks of joining. As we continue to grow and improve, we hope to provide the opportunity for more and more people in our community to learn how to play brass instruments.