Marquee signals the brilliant return of brass at Birkwood

A great idea, a wonderful donation, lots of brasstastic children and teacher Mike Dodd wrapped up warm means the sound of brass has returned to Birkwood Primary School.

  The children can now enjoy brass ensemble practice together with Mr Dodd

Thanks to the fantastic generosity of a local donor the youngsters at Birkwood Primary School have been able to return to playing in their brass ensembles groups as part of their musical education.

The children returned to school in September, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic precautions meant that they could not start back straight away with their brass tuition from former Grimethorpe solo euphonium star Michael Dodd.

Outside marquee

However, the combination of a brilliant idea, that wonderful donation and Mr Dodd's willingness to wear multi layers of warm clothing when he teaches, meant the children have now been back playing in a special outside marquee — and enjoying every minute of it since.

The school's brass coordinator Esther Sutton-Smith told 4BR that the return of brass has made a hugely positive impact on the children.

"I think it was approximately an hour or so into our return after six months at home that the first question being asked by the children was not about school meals or play time breaks but when was Mr Dodd returning to start his lessons again!"

Music rich diet

Esther added: "Barnsley Music Hub has been amazing throughout lockdown and we have been fortunate that our children have a 'music rich' diet and access to the arts that they all love. It's made a huge positive impact on everyone with our Birkwood Brass ensemble at the heart of it."

Individual lessons were soon organised with appropriate safeguarding measures and rules in place, with children taught alongside their peers from their class bubble only.

Esther continued: "I'm blessed with a head teacher Julie Allen MBE who supports my 'crazy' brass band plans every step of the way and fully recognises the positives of a rich musical education for our pupils and enables inclusive opportunities for all.

We also wanted to start our 20 strong brass ensemble Birkwood Brass off outside when the weather was nice, so Mr Dodd was soon conducting in the open air at 9.05am in the morning and sound was heard over the area for the first time in nearly half a year.

It was amazing — especially as the school isn't far from Grimethorpe Band's bandhall. The children kept asking if they could hear them!

It was such an uplifting experience, but we knew it couldn't last forever as the weather was getting colder and it had rained a few times.

Then came the idea from Mr Dodd about a marquee and the news that we had received a donation that would help us pay for one!"

All the children think he's the coolest (and coldest) teacher in the world now with his scarves and jackets — but he never stops smiling and encouraging4BR

Idea into reality

With the support of her head teacher and by making sure children could be taught safely in their socially distanced bubbles, the idea became a reality.

"Everyone's been buzzing since,"Esther added. "We sourced the marquee that has the space and ventilation, and the company even came and set it up for us in time for the very next rehearsal.

The gentleman who gave us the money is thrilled that it has been used in this way and the joy it will bring to children in the local community. Perhaps some of that famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band spirit has been shown with the children as they are so determined to get back to playing.

This Thursday I could hear 'Death or Glory' echoing out across our community. Michael has selected this newest piece for lots of relevant reasons.

All the children think he's the coolest (and coldest) teacher in the world now with his scarves and jackets — but he never stops smiling and encouraging."


The school is now hoping to raise funds to put down flooring to stop chairs sinking into the grass.

"We have more to do of course, but we will wrap up warm and keep playing — its makes us all so happy to be playing music together again!"

Become a supporter and help make our future secure.

4barsrest continues to be a proudly independent voice. There are no paywalls to overcome to be able to enjoy what we do to keep our journalism at the heart of the brass banding world. Support us with a one-off donation or subscribe from just £2.50 per month.

Support us    

Fully scored

Bulla ready to be Fully Scored

July 5 • Composer Stephen Bulla is the special guest on the latest Fully Scored podcast.

Frank Wolff

Outstanding honour for remarkable ambassador

July 5 • Brass Bands England honour Frank Wolff for his outstanding services to the brass band movement.


NYBBS opens doors for all inclusive future

July 5 • The National Youth Brass Band of Scotland is opening its doors to help inspire the next generation of young players.

Ian Culross

Culross returns to Leyland

July 5 • The experienced Scottish cornet star returns to Leyland Band for a second tenure as principal cornet.

Derwent Brass - THIS IS DERWENT 30! Gala Concert

Saturday 9 July • Allestree Woodlands School Theatre, Blenheim Drive, Allestree, Derby DE22 2LW

Lofthouse 2000 Brass Band - Summer Music Sunday - RHS Harlow Carr Gardens

Sunday 10 July • RHS Harlow Carr Gardens. Crag Lane. Harrogate. HG3 1QB HG3 1QB

Thundersley Brass Band - 'Best of British' themed Summer Concert

Sunday 10 July • Richmond Hall,. Richmond Avenue. Benfleet. Essex SS7 5HA

Boarshurst Silver Band - Milnrow Band

Sunday 10 July • Boarshurst Band Club. Greenbridge Lane. Greenfield. Saddleworth OL3 7EW

Otterbourne Brass -

Sunday 10 July • Chandlers Ford Methodist Church so532gj

Crofton Silver Band

July 5 • SOLO CORNET & BACK ROW CORNET. Crofton Silver Band are looking for Solo & Back Row Cornets to add to their line up as the band looks forward to celebrating its 150th Anniversary next year with an exciting mix of concerts and contests.

Crofton Silver Band

July 5 • FLUGEL. Due to work commitments, Crofton Silver Band are looking for a Flugel to add to their line up as the band looks forward to celebrating its 150th Anniversary next year with an exciting mix of concerts and contests.

Enderby Band

July 5 • We are looking for a cornet player (position negotiable). We have a variety of concerts/contests scheduled to continue our journey in the Championship Section. We use social events to create fantastic team working, so you would be joining a fab group.

Paul Andrews

Conductor, Band trainer, Adjudicator, Instrument Repairer - Brasstoff


 © 2022 4barsrest.com Ltd