A Glorious Accident
Chris tells us how his love of brass bands all started with a glorious accident!
It all began as a glorious accident. I was in school assembly. I think I was 10 maybe 11. The teacher asked if anyone wanted to play an instrument. The lad next to me raised his hand, so I did. I got picked, he didn’t. I can’t recall his name, but I would like to thank him. He doesn’t know it, but he changed my life.
I parped away on cornet then horn. I joined the junior band at Ashington. Another chance encounter when my mam served the guy who ran it at the local bingo. I made friends, special ones. I loved the social side. People often forget that, but it’s the important part. I got better, despite not practicing much. Later I realised that you don’t practice you play. That’s where you find the love.
I moved to Newbiggin, joined the village band. They were struggling, but they brought in young players from the school, mixed youth with experience. We got better and won the National Championship in our section. It was one of the best days of my life.
Then it all ended. The pits were closing so if you were clever you escaped, you went to University. I left and never played again for 23 years. My fortieth loomed and everyone asked what I was going to do. My wife asked if there was anything I missed. ‘My horn’ I said. So I bought one and played. I didn’t practice, I played. I found the love again, the joy of music, everything I had missed. People ask me ‘I don’t know how you find the time.’ I make it. When you love something you find it. Playing music is pure joy.
A few years ago we organised a reunion of our old school band, the players I learnt with, who I shared many special moments with. Over 50 of us came together from all over, even New Zealand. We played a Christmas concert to a packed church in our town. It was magical. You have to be a musician to experience that special bond, the feeling you get when you play together. It’s an incredible connection. Music is a huge part of my life now. The glorious accident.
Digital stories celebrating the rich heritage of brass bands in South East Northumberland.