In Praise of amateurorchestras.org.uk
Many of you will know that I am a little obsessed with my music and the greatest asset I have in my musical travels is amateurorchestras.org.uk. I take my trumpet with me most places I go to. I have even been known to practise in car parks when the walls in my hotel room are too thin and rushed through a few scales in my car, outside many schools across the UK when I arrive too early.
This website is full of 100s of full orchestras, string orchestras, brass bands, wind bands, concert bands, and a category called miscellaneous which can include things such as flute groups, clarinet choirs and so on. There is also a map for you to browse for a group near you and It's a Google Map so it delights me to see someone using Google Tools for such a great purpose.
As I travel around the country, I take a moment to search this website for local groups. I tend to go for Wind and Concert bands or big bands. I contact them, tell them I am in the area looking for a blow but that I am not looking to join and I am welcomed into the rehearsal almost every time. Those rare times when I am refused, there is always a good reason: the final rehearsal before a concert or recording.
I particularly want to mention the two bands I visited this week because they epitomise my experience of the use of this site. They were Thame Concert Band and Aylesbury Concert Band (Both in the Central Southern England Region)
Both groups were extremely friendly and welcoming. They were generous in the help and support they offered me, keen to talk to me, shared music around without any sense of me being the intruder. I cannot recommend this website enough because it gives musicians a place to connect. Clearly, were I to be looking to join a band, I would go here.
Musically, it gives me the experience of a musical style I rarely play and it is great sight reading practise and I have already noticed an improvement in the accuracy of my sight reading. It also means I am not "Billy-no-mates" in my hotel room when I am away. Result!
The site is run by Geoff Rousell and it must be a labour of love now as the numbers of groups joining are always increasing. If you find yourself using a lot, I suggest you say thank with a donation or sending him something off his Amazon Gift List - I hope he enjoys his book about the healing qualities of beer! Not sure we needed a book about it - I always thought this was obvious buy, Hey Ho!