It’s always great to see children and adults playing and enjoying music together – and in Leicester, they are doing just that with the development of a band that, in less than two years, has participated in championships across the UK – as well as being part of their city’s centenary celebrations and being invited to play at the 2019 Christmas lights switch-on.
The Brass of the Saff was formed in April 2018 when 30 primary school children from Marriott Primary School in Leicester went to The National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain in Warwick. Against all odds, and with just a short time for preparation, they came home with the award for Band Showing Most Potential.
It is an award that has proved prophetic.
With nearly £9,000 raised through crowdfunding, a contribution from Warwick Music Group towards music medal costs and Normans providing a discounted rate on 30 pBones and 30 pCornets, the band is now going from strength to even greater strength.
“We have had fantastic support – locally and from the wider community. Having a national profile has really helped too - and enabled us to further raise our standards,” says Julie Maxwell who has helped pioneer the band and is an experienced teacher and artist.
Brass of the Saff has recently returned from a residential event at Hagg Farm in Derbyshire. In addition, all the children go for ABRSM Music Medals and Arts Awards as part and parcel of being in the band.
“It hasn’t always been an easy journey because although we have enjoyed recent success, our earlier efforts in terms of grant applications were unsuccessful – but crowdfunding proved to be a brilliant idea,” says Julie.
“We chose pInstruments because they fit our cheery and vibrant profile, they are affordable, colourful and light – and we want this to be fun. Multi-coloured instruments also say something about our openness to players of all gender, background and culture.
“Now we are turning our eyes to the future. We want to be a hub for cool, innovative brass playing. We involve rappers and beat boxers, tabla players and ska players. We are improvising and experimenting – whilst taking part in the BBE Youth Championships to mark our progress.
“We are looking forward to participating at Bolsover Festival of Brass in October- our first time there - but above all to becoming a gateway to a brass future for local people. Local families can learn to play as well as helping with organising events and our hope is that in due course, our younger players will take over as leaders. That’s why we have also got an internal award system with badges and the like.”
Says Steven Greenall, Chief Executive at Warwick Music Group: “We’re really proud to have played a small part in the development of The Brass of the Saff, and to give them encouragement too.
“It says a great deal for the local community and it is quite remarkable that what started as an after-school club is now developing towards a full-sized brass band that is gaining further momentum as time goes by.
“No longer is the band solely the domain of the school in which it was formed. Although those links remain important, The Brass of the Saff has become a community-led group that demonstrates to what can be done with inspirational leadership and sheer determination.”