Longridge Youth Band is offering to teach five to 17-year-olds how to play two rare brass instruments

They have two rare instruments gathering up dust.

By Laura Longworth
Sunday, 19th June 2022, 4:55 am
Photo Neil Cross; Brian Law, chairperson of the Longridge Band committee, appealing for junior members to come and play the rare tubas.
Photo Neil Cross; Brian Law, chairperson of the Longridge Band committee, appealing for junior members to come and play the rare tubas.

Longridge Youth Band is looking for people aged five to 17 to bring life back to these two rare lightweight Eb tubas/basses that are among some of the very few of their kind designed for children to hold.

The chairperson of the Longridge Band committee is also calling for numerous youths to learn to play their spare horns and trumpets on Fridays at 6-30pm in a barn behind The Durham Ox pub in Berry Lane. The barn is also a part of history, having been used by the group for more than 100 years.

Brian Law, of Catforth, who is a B-flat bass player for the senior section, hopes to bring in a new generation of music lovers to help preserve the dwindling tradition of brass music as a cornerstone of community celebration. Brian also hopes the new recruits, who will be given tuition, will later progress onto the senior division, which is competing in the championship.

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Photo Neil Cross; Longridge Youth Band requires players for numerous instruments, including rare tubas that are deisgned for children to hold.

Commenting on the band’s future as the rare instruments sit untouched, the retired 69-year-old said: “Try as we might, we can’t recruit anyone to play them. We don’t have anyone in the learner section at the minute. It’s such a waste because they are lovely instruments.

“You don’t see them very often in youth bands so it’s definitely a unique opportunity. [Adult] basses are absolutely heavy, while the junior tubas are much smaller, very light and manageable for youngsters. That’s what makes them special. You don’t find them very often in good condition.”

Talking about the importance of the instrument, he added: “Bass players tend not to be in the limelight. We sit in the back and provide the power. The whole sound [of the band] is built on the bass.

“We call it the engine room. Without it, we wouldn’t get very far.”

That power has driven the senior section to the same roads enjoyed by professional musicians.

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“The championship is like the Premier League of football. We’ll be rubbing shoulders with professionals like the [multi award-winning] Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. We’re doing really well and people travel from Manchester play with us but the junior group just needs a bit of a boost with a few more players.”

Brian is passionate about securing the band’s future, not just for the enjoyment of the players themselves, but also due to the support it lends to the community.

“The band supports all functions in the town. We’ve played in the Longridge Field Day and Goosnargh and Whittingham Fair, and our Civic Hall concerts regularly attract audiences of 200 to 250 people.”

Building on this success, its junior counterpart was born around six years ago and currently has around 20 members playing chart classics like Tom Jones’ Delilah and Madness’ Baggy Trousers. Led by musical director Johnathan Ford, they perform in marches, at Longridge Field Day and in their own bi-annual concerts in the Civic Hall.

Brian and his fellow musicians are determined to uphold this “strong Lancashire tradition”, which took a hit when the mines were closed since each one had its own brass band.

He added: “Everybody loves the sound of a brass band, especially at Christmas, so it’d be nice to keep it going.”

For more information, visit https://longridgeband.org.uk/