Today’s columnist, Dave Edwards: Best of brass music to your ears

David Edwards is a writer who lives in Sheffield and runs the Words Count agency in the city.
David Edwards is a writer who lives in Sheffield and runs the Words Count agency in the city.
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Wednesday and United may not have won through to the FA Cup Final this year, but some other Sheffield ‘teams’ have made it to their showpiece finals.

Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) Brass Band and Chapeltown have both won their respective regional sections, whilst the Oughtibridge band came second in their section and are also off to the nationals.

Across the country brass bands are thriving, and the picture in Sheffield reflects this.

There are now around 10 bands in the area, with the Loxley Silver Band having just set up a training band in the last year to accommodate all those wanting to take part. Local bands are also showcased every year in a series of free concerts to packed audiences at the Niagara Conference Centre in Hillsborough.

Rachel Veitch-Straw, the National Liaison Officer for Brass Bands England is a passionate advocate of the benefits of brass bands.

Sheffield born and bred, Rachel started out in the City of Sheffield Youth Brass Band, which gave her the opportunity to travel the world, performing with the band in Yugoslavia, Italy and even Australia.

She says: “Apart from playing some great music, people love the friendships and sense of community that comes from regularly practising and performing together with a group of like-minded people. We all lead busy and often stressful lives these days. You can have all the worries in the world, but then you come to the band practice and spend a couple of hours, working as a team with friends and being completely focused on the music. When you come away you realise that the world is looking a better place than it was two hours ago.”

Bands are closely linked to their communities, often playing at local festivals and events as well as supporting charities. A great example of this is Boobs and Brass, an all-women brass band who have raised more than£150,000 for Breast Cancer Campaign to date.

If you are interested in joining a band, as a player or volunteer, visit www.brassbandsengland.co.uk. Unite the Union Band are also looking for sponsorship to keep the Niagara concert series free for all – any companies interested can contact bandclub@unitetheunionbrassband.org.uk