A talented young trombone player has received a very special gift this Christmas, thanks to the combined efforts of Hercules Stands, Jupiter Instruments and Cory Band.
Nine year old Matthew Griffiths has a disability called Brachial Plexus injury, also known as Erb’s Palsy, which left him with no finger movement in his left hand and very restricted movement in his left arm.
However, after trying several different activities Matthew decided he would like to play a musical instrument, and undaunted by the obvious difficulty and guided by his school music teacher, he set his sights on the trombone.
It soon became clear that Matthew had a wonderful ear for music and soon started to make great progress — thanks to the use of an improvised microphone stand. However, this was not ideal: As he quickly improved, it meant that someone still had to steady the instrument while he practised and played.
Just over a year ago, Matthew was assessed by specialist company ‘Adapt it’ for a modified laptop stand to help with his school work, and it was from this that Martyn Slyper from the company discovered Matthew’s trombone problem.
Contact was made with Strings & Things Ltd, the UK distributor of Hercules Stands, who in turn set their development boffins the task of coming up with the perfect solution.
With their renowned expertise, Matthew’s requirements were assessed and a brilliant solution was found — with a unique adjustable hand clamp that cleverly held Matthew’s trombone firmly in perfect playing place.
After initial testing, the clamp, which was fitted to a standard heavy duty Hercules MS401B microphone stand, was flown over to the UK via special delivery.
That was just the start of things though, as the Hercules Stands parent company is called KHS, an abbreviation of ‘Kong Hsue Sheh’ in Taiwanese, which translates to ‘Contribution to Schools and Society’.
During the development of Matthew’s unique clamp and stand it was noted by KHS that he was playing a ‘Jupiter’ branded trombone — also manufactured by KHS.
So impressed were they by Matthew’s determination that, in association with Korg UK, the UK distributor of Jupiter, KHS decided to also present him with a brand new Jupiter JSL-432L trombone to further help inspire him to follow his passion for music.
The final part of the success story came through Hercules Stand’s link with Cory, who then invited Matthew and his family to be special guests at their recent BBC Radio Wales concert in Cardiff.
At the event, a thrilled Matthew was presented with his new equipment by Cory’s star solo trombone player Chris Thomas, alongside KHS and Korg UK, and Robin Crocker from Strings & Things (above), who was directly involved in the development of Matthew’s special Hercules equipment.
It was a brilliant occasion, with Chris telling 4BR that it was one of highlights of his long playing career.
“To see such a great youngster wanting to play the trombone no matter what, touched everyone’s heart, and to be able to offer some help and advice to Matthew was one of the best things that I’ve done in my long playing career.”
He added: “I’m going to keep an eye on his development now — and if I can help in any way in the future the family only have to ask. Hercules have done a remarkable job. My only hope is that he doesn’t quite get good enough for a few years yet before he comes along and takes my seat at Cory!”
Now, with the modified stand and clamp, he can play and practice his new instrument with greater freedom and independence. My heartfelt thanks go to everyone involvedMatthew's mother, Diane
Matthew’s mother, Diane told 4BR: “To be given such wonderful support by Hercules Stands and Strings &Things has been overwhelming, and the kind support shown by KHS and Korg UK has been simply amazing.
I am also very grateful to the Erb’s Palsy Group for introducing us to the right people in the first instance so that Matthew can continue to participate in one of the things that he most enjoys.
Diane added: "We are also so grateful to Cory Band Manager Austin Davies for arranging for Matthew to have his first chance to see the band in action. This was a wonderful gift to him. Chris Thomas was simply wonderful in making Matthew feel so welcome and special as a player.
Now, with the modified stand and clamp, he can play and practice his new instrument with greater freedom and independence. My heartfelt thanks go to everyone involved.”