BACK IN BUSINESS - First to Fourth sections enjoy Nationals return

Issue 6110

REGIONALS TESTS - Set works announced ahead of 2022 Regional Championships

A RISING STAR - BB meets Flowers and NYBBGB cornetist, Luke Barker

Stephen Walkley - Trombone trailblazer

Tuesday 24 August, 2021

Stephen Walkley is one of the architects of modern brass band trombone playing. A former solo trombonist with Fairey and Sun Life Bands, Stephen was trombone tutor at the first ever Brass Band Summer School and a major influence on the approach of brass band trombone players in the 1980s with his lyricism and sound quality.

Now living in Cyprus and approaching the official retirement age of 68, Stephen spoke to Brett Baker for a three-part series for British Bandsman. To begin with, Stephen charts his musical roots and speaks candidly about some of the technical challenges he faced in the early stages of his playing career.

 

Stephen Walkey enjoyed a sparkling career at the pinnacle of the brass band scene. The late 1970s saw the likes of Chris Jeans at Desford, Ian Bousfield at Yorkshire Imps, Nick Hudson at Foden’s and John Maines – and then Norman Law – at Black Dyke but Stephen more than held his own in such esteemed company.

Reflecting on those days brings Stephen great joy – but rewind a little further and all was not rosy in the garden, as far as his playing was concerned. It made him begin with some sage advice: “The most important single piece of advice I think I could give to any young player, particularly in the very early stages of learning, would be always try to find the best, most knowledgeable and experienced teachers that you can. Teachers who really understand how everything works properly and efficiently. I'm talking about basics like embouchure setup, correct breathing, posture and tongue position. Teachers who can explain and demonstrate this articulately and accurately, will make a huge difference.

“There are a great many well-meaning, home grown, naturally talented and fairly experienced mature individuals in amateur music groups who devote a great deal of unpaid time and energy into teaching young people to play musical instruments, not least in brass bands. I am truly grateful for these people, because without them, so many young children would never have an opportunity to experience the musical, and social benefits, and the sheer enjoyment of being able to play an instrument...”

 

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