Following the end of the government-funded music scheme aimed at introducing children to playing musical instruments, The Egham Band has started taking Brass music back into our schools.
The Youth Brass Project is simply an idea to introduce opportunities for whole year groups of children to learn to play a brass instrument within a school environment, perform at various events, play as part of a school band and continue to play after leaving junior/primary school.
To be sustainable, the instruments used during the year must be purchased to remove any cost to schools or parents.
The project has now been running for seven years; after two years of planning and preparation, we rolled out to St Jude's CofE Junior School, Englefield Green, in Sept 2018, followed by Thorpe CofE Primary School in Sept 2019, Manorcroft Primary School, Egham joined most recently in Sept 2022.
Year 4 students are taught a music curriculum by one of our teachers as a whole class, often supported by one of our band volunteers and a Year 4 teaching assistant (who can also learn to play!).
The first event that the pupils play at is the Christmas Concert, as can be seen in the photograph above, from 2023, all three schools get together to showcase what we has been learnt over the term. The evening culminates in the massed bands of nearly 200 players playing Jingle Bells.
From January those more advanced players are invited to join the after-school club where they can further their musical playing in a setting more like a brass band. Pupils who want are invited to join the school band through the remainder of the year once they reach a suitable level of playing.
The school bands are invited to play at the Youth Programme Spring Concert where they can show off what they have been playing as part of the school band alongside the more experienced Egham Training Band, Egham Youth Band and soloists/duets.
Again once a players in the school band are able to hold their own they are invited to join the Egham Training Band, this can be any time from the summer of Year 4 until they leave their junior/primary school. It's important that the players progress at a speed that is comfortable for them so that they continue to enjoy playing.
During the summer after Year 4 players will be able to try other brass instruments and given the chance to continue to play on their cornet or a different chosen instrument. Opportunities for individual instruction and for graded exams are also available.
The school year finishes with each school putting on an outdoor (weather permitting!) concert. Year 4's showcase what they have learned throughout the year as well as individual musical performances - not just brass instruments, and the school brass band.
Thanks to the generous support of many individuals and organisations, we are providing 150 instruments and teaching five Year 4 groups in three local schools.
In the summer of 2016 the then Training Band became the Youth Band as their abilities had outgrown being a training band and the plan was as the project progressed a new Training Band would start.
In the 2023/24 school year, we teach brass to 140 children for Yr4 St Jude's Junior School, Thorpe Primary School and Manorcroft Primary School. We also continue to teach the students from previous years who have continued to learn brass in the school brass bands that rehearse after school finishes.
The children from Years 4 are playing today on their plastic instruments and the school brass bands play with a mixture of plastic and brass instruments.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic the Egham Training Band was restarted in June 2020 and continues to grow in numbers.
The Egham Training Band has now grown to over 20 strong and exists to give the children somewhere to play with new members joining after Easter and during the summer term as confidence and ability grow.
As their playing ability increases, there are opportunities to move to the Egham Youth Band and possibly even the Senior Band. Both the Training Band and Youth band are also open to musicians that are from the local area not taught by us.
Fundraising is an ever-important part of our project as with anything in life nothing comes free. To date we have raised funds to purchase around 140 p-cornets, 30 pBones and 30 jHorns to enable to loan the students one each so they are able to take them home to practice and play together.
In 2024 we'll be fundraising for a class of pBones at Manorcroft as well as additional metal instruments for players to move onto once the join their school band.
Not only do we plan to continue the project we have ambitions, when the time is right, and when funding is in place, to expand the project to further schools in Runnymede.
We are very grateful for the donations we have received and continue to receive, without which we would be unable to run the project. If you are able to help please contact us at: email@example.com
We are not able to offer much in return for your donations, however, by donating you are supporting our future generation, not only to play a musical instrument, at no cost to the child, but also an activity that has been proven to support mental wellbeing, confidence, working together.
In return for your generosity we would be more than happy to add your name or company name/logo on our website/social media and in programmes involving the Youth Brass Project. You would also be more than welcome to come to concerts to watch and listen to what you have helped achieve.