It is quite well known that instrumental music tuition in schools is no longer what it used to be and drums and guitars are more likely to be taken up than trombones and bassoons.
There are rumours that music may be dropped from school curriculums altogether painting a very bleak picture. However, we know that there are still plenty of servicemen around that play and we are lucky enough to have quite a few already in RAF Waddington Voluntary Band.
Amongst them is our tri service group in the photograph taken after the Freedom Parade on 7th April this year.
Firstly Sub-Lt Thomas Cummings of RAF Cranwell writes:
I started off playing the French Horn at school and soon got involved with the Air Cadet Music Services through the National Concert and Marching Bands, giving me a lot of opportunities to play at exciting venues like Buckingham Palace. As such, since joining the Royal Navy last January, I’ve been keen to join a Volunteer Band again. Currently on Elementary Flying training at RAF Cranwell, I joined both the Band and am also learning with the Pipe Band as an excellent way to unwind mid-week and enjoy myself, and a great escape from Cranwell.
The Band has a really social atmosphere (the free mini bar mid rehearsal is ideal) and the great variety of music from film scores to military music to classical and Big Band styles mean I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys music and playing with others. They’re also very flexible and understanding that the job must always take priority, which is fantastic when based down the road on a very busy flying programme
Captain Paul Jackson, 150 Regiment RLC based in Hull
Paul began playing in RAF Waddington Voluntary Band on percussion at around the age of 13 as his Father was (and still is!) the Bandmaster. His interest in music was further nurtured at school where he took up the trombone, later specialising in the bass trombone. After a period of employment at ‘Counterpoint’, Lincoln’s premier music shop, he went onto further education at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln gaining a degree in music and education. Following this he took the opportunity to join an Army Reserve Band, 150 Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps and so impressed were they with his conducting abilities he was offered the opportunity to commission as a Professionally Qualified Officer (PQO) passing out from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in July 2015. Although now living in Hull he has continued his association with RAF Waddington Voluntary Band.
Flt Lt Dan Beechey, OC SEF RAF Waddington
My Father is from Yorkshire so I started playing brass as soon as I had my front teeth! My first band was Sherbourne Town Youth Band before progressing to the main Sherbourne Town Band.
At around the age of 15 I decided to join the forces and after investigating the Band of the Royal Signals settled upon joining the RAF as an Engineering Officer. I went through Defence Sixth Form College (DSFC) Welbeck where I continued playing euphonium and taught myself guitar. After a break from brass playing both at University and during RAF training at RAFC Cranwell and RAF Cosford I decided to take up music again at RAF Waddington after seeing adverts for the voluntary band.
It’s the opportunities like music and sport that encouraged me to join the RAF.
Also in the Spotlight.
Fg Officer Fiona McWilliam, RAFP RAF Coningsby
RAF police officer Fg Off Fiona McWilliam joined the Waddington Voluntary Band in November 2016, shortly after beginning her first posting at RAF Coningsby. Before joining the RAF Fiona worked as a self-employed musician, which included being a Territorial Army musician with the Salamanca Band and Bugles of the Rifles. Playing tenor sax in their concert and marching bands she also enjoyed being part of their soul band on bass guitar.
During her time with the band Musn.McWilliam strutted her stuff at various events around the South West (the band is based at Wyvern Barracks in Exeter) as well as on tour in Dubai and Cyprus, where she played alongside WVB’s Kev and Sally Reed. Music is in Fiona’s blood and so a Lincolnshire posting was fantastic news as it meant a Voluntary Band for her to join. She sits alongside Kev Reed on tenor sax part of the time and with the lower end with the bass section the rest of the time. She is thoroughly enjoying the whole Voluntary Band experience, so much so that she agreed to take on the role of Secretary for the committee. As if she didn’t have her feet under the table enough she has helped to re-start the Big Band, terrifying members with 12 Bar Blues progressions and improvisation exercises on a monthly basis.
She looks forward to playing more engagements and hopefully securing a spot with the RAF100 Voluntary Band next year.
I hope that the experiences of a small cross section of our band members might encourage others to come forward to join. One of the things that the band accepts is that busy service life and one’s primary duty has to take precedence over appearances with the band, but by having a much broader base of musicians, some who might not think they have time for the band, we can continue to operate.
The Bandmaster, David Jackson, is sitting at the other end of his phone waiting to take calls from any reed, brass or percussion instrumentalist wishing to join although the greatest current need is for brass. Phone or text 07976 687276 for more information.