Connecting during COVID-19: Coalburn keeps the banding spirit alive

Saturday 25 July 2020

The Coalburn banding family has not just been casually keeping in touch during the current COVID-19 restrictions on face-to-face gatherings. Members have been actively using the internet as a means to continue practising, performing and holding their band meetings online.

Not being able to meet up for weekly rehearsals has not stopped members from pulling together to keep the band running and continuing to make music.

Bronze Band members have had future concert pieces arranged by conductors David Fehilly and Gareth Bowman and pre-recorded by a group of Silver Band members to help them play along.

Gareth, the Silver Band conductor, has also been designing and leading ‘guided practice sessions’ online to support Silver and Intermediate band members with their home practice routines.

The Percussion Academy too has continued lessons online with tutor Caitlin Monaghan. However, she will soon be moving on to start a Masters course at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and everyone at Coalburn wishes her well in her continued studies.

Coalburn band members are looking forward to the time they can get together again like this.

Coalburn has had some very positive feedback to its virtual recordings. The Intermediate Band joined up with Leadhills Silver Band to produce a performance of A Song for Health by Steven Verhelst. This was followed by the Silver Band’s recording of Alan Fernie’s arrangement of the Madness song Baggy Trousers, a piece of music that is regularly played by the band during summer engagements.

While there is disappointment that Stonehouse, Blackwood & Kirkmuirhill, Douglas and Coalburn gala days as well as Lanimer Day in Lanark were cancelled this year, the band looks forward to returning to these events in 2021. And with funding from Foundation Scotland, the band is relishing the performance of six new arrangements of popular music at these summer engagements.

Coalburn has also had financial support from South Lanarkshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund to help compensate for some of its lost income during the pandemic.

In addition to online musical activities, the band has organised numerous quizzes and has held an EGM, an AGM and committee meetings to continue the smooth running of the bands.

Coalburn’s next concerts will be Disney themed and music has been issued to all bands to start preparing at home. The Silver Band will also be participating in the West of Scotland online entertainment contest and members of both the Silver and Intermediate bands are involved in the WoS virtual band as well.

“The whole Coalburn brass band family extends our best wishes to all supporters and fellow bands throughout the UK during this unprecedented time and thank all frontline workers for their efforts against COVID-19,” says committee member Jenny Alexander.

“We hope that we can resume rehearsals and perform once again for our audiences as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”


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