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Shepway Brass Academy goes from strength to strength

Published in Band News on 2016-11-02 by Empty Chairs

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Shepway Brass Academy, the children and young people’s brass band based in Folkestone, Kent, is going from strength to strength, and signed up six new beginners at its open day in October.


SBA has been in existence for three years, and now has four sections: intermediate, training band, developers’ band and beginners. Over 50 children from the Shepway area, covering Folkestone, Hythe and the Romney Marsh, take part in the band, which rehearses every Saturday in term-time at the Christ Church Primary Academy Community Hall in Folkestone. Local youngsters can learn to play with the band, working their way up the groups, and have an instrument to take home and practise for just £1.00 per week.


The band was the dream of Christer Aberg, a widely known and respected brass band leader who lived in the area until 2015 when he returned to his native Sweden. Thanks to Christer’s vision and tireless application for grants and funding, SBA got off the ground in 2013 and has been growing ever since. It is now led by musical director Paul Driscoll, with the support of local brass musicians who help with teaching and conducting, and other volunteers who work behind the scenes. Some of the older and more experienced young musicians are now helping to teach and coach the junior bands, while one is developing her conducting skills. Several young band members, some of whom began their brass career with SBA, are now also playing with the prestigious Southern Counties Youth Band.


Paul Driscoll commented: ‘It’s great to see that our group is thriving. Our young players gain so much more from playing together than just making music; they develop friendships, leadership and social skills. They also have opportunities to help younger or less skilled players through tutoring in groups or conducting.’


Shepway Brass Academy will next be playing at the Youth Festival of Remembrance in the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone on 12 November, and at a joint concert with the Band of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Band on 10 December at The Tower Theatre, Shorncliffe, Folkestone. 

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