2009 National Youth Championships - Training Section retrospective


There was a fantastic display of brass band talent in the entry level section on Sunday - with everyone having a great time.

Winning smile
That winning smile: Smithy Bridge take the title in both hands...

Fresh initiatives sometimes seem to be few and far between, but the Training Band Section at the National Youth Championships was a celebration of everything good about banding.

Here were young players enjoying their hobby in a classy venue to an appreciative audience (albeit, as with any events involving children, a slightly partisan one due to the armies of proud parents supporting the different bands!).

Very young

Four bands performed, the criteria for entry being that the ensembles had to be ‘very young bands’, with a maximum upper age limit of 16 - although on the evidence we saw, the vast majority of players were much, much younger than this.

Each band was required to play a 15 minute programme of their own choosing, which allowed the bands to play to their strengths and ensured the audience had an interesting afternoon’s listening.

Always in contention

Smithy Bridge Primary School
, under Lee Rigg, opened the day’s proceedings with a show that was always going to be in contention from the outset for the ‘Band of the Day’ award.

It was no great surprise when judges Michelle Ibbotson and Katrina Marzella awarded this to the band at the end of the afternoon’s playing.

The band’s stage deportment and presentation was first rate throughout, which started with Ray Woodfield’s ‘Circus Parade’ and also featured ‘Italian Song’, ‘Have Fingers Will Travel’ (a cornet trio featuring three of the band’s young stars), ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and ‘Czardas’, amongst others.

Principal cornet Laura Conway made great contributions throughout the band’s performance, and Smithy Bridge’s trombone player and percussion section also impressed greatly. 

MD Lee Rigg made sure the audience were part of the action as well, and this enjoyable show received its just reward at the announcement of the results - to the delight of the band (and even more so the parents!).

Varied programme

Next up was the West Lancashire Youth Band, who under conductor Georgina Roberts presented a varied programme traversing several different styles of music.

Opening with the traditional march ‘New Recruit’, they followed by featuring two percussionists in the xylophone duet ‘Nicola’, which was brilliantly played.

The largo from Antonín Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’ was next up, and the band finished with a swing arrangement of ‘Sweet and Low’, which featured some excellent kit drumming.

The girl sat on the soprano seat, but playing Bb cornet, was a wonderful player, and West Lancashire had some very enthusiastic players in the ranks who made a great sound and had a nice sense of style even at a very young age!


Stockport Schools Youth Band
was the penultimate band of the day, and their performance was enhanced by some great cornet playing and an excellent percussion team that added lots of sparkle to each piece the band played.

Opening with the theme from ‘Rocky’, the band’s programme also featured a peaceful rendition of ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ended with ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’.

Everything had a sense of fun about it, and conductor Rachel Pavey made sure that the programme picked for the youngsters in the band suited their talents exactly.

Ah factor

Drawn to play last out of the 4 bands, Dobcross Juniors under Melanie Garlick had the novel idea of using individual band members to introduce each piece.

One mother from a rival band complained about the band using the ‘ah..!’ factor to win over the adjudicators, but this was a nice idea which made the programme flow even better – some parents here do get a bit too involved in the proceedings!

Dobcross opened with a bright rendition of the march ‘Portsmouth’ and followed with four other items, including a wonderfully played trombone solo and an arrangement of the ‘Floral Dance’ (in C major instead of the usual Eb).

Dobcross also featured a hymn tune sextet of the tune ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’ which worked very nicely and showed off the quality of players the band has. Melanie Garlick is doing sterling work with these youngsters, and their performance rounded off an incredibly heart-warming event, showcasing some of the brass band scene’s brightest future talents.

Glowing praise

Judges Katrina Marzella and Michelle Ibbotson were glowing in their praise of the bands, emphasising how much they had enjoyed the afternoon’s playing and congratulating the young players on the standard of performance and presentation they had achieved. Coming from players of this calibre, this was praise indeed.

The Training Section was a resounding success, and with Robert Morgan from the BFBB indicating that the rules could be altered next year to allow more bands to enter this foundation level is sure to go from strength to strength.

Robert Richardson


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