Nine Lessons and Carols 7

I separated from someone this year after a relationship that had lasted several years. My baritone partner moved to playing tenor horn.

I’ll miss sharing a joke with her in rehearsals whilst the conductor is picking on the back row cornets, I’ll miss us whispering "eight" or "sixteen" in unison when we’re counting rests. Most of all, I’ll miss simply playing in harmony with her.

There are two baritone players in a brass band. You’ll see them sitting between the tenor horns and the euphoniums. They’re the top of the lower band, they fill in the middle parts. They don’t usually play solos, but you’d miss them if they weren’t there. In a band, as in life, everyone plays a part. You don’t win contests being carried by one or two heroes, you win by everyone playing together. You don’t have to be the centre of attention to be making a difference.

Some players choose between playing a solo part in a third division band or a supporting part in the first division. It’s a matter of matching your talents to what’s best for the greater good.

One of the nice things about playing in a band is the range of people. Age, race and creed are no indication of where someone ends up sitting. Bands are generally meritocracies, you can tell how good you are in relation to others. It’s not your job to be the best one there, but rather to practice and play your best so that you don’t let everyone else down.

That way, you have a band that people want to be a part of, and that others want to listen to.

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