It's Thursday 18th May, and three sets of steelbands are converging on Ilkley Kings Hall. Wanda is bringing Oulton Year Five, Oulton Year Six, and Oulton Fledglings. Bex and I are bringing Sparrows, and Carole and I are bringing Stanningley year Five Steel.
We played all the usual tunes, and Sparrows featured songs this year were Symphony Number 40 [Mozart arranged VJ], Wings of a Dove [Prince Buster arranged DG] and Rockabye [Sean Paul and Clean Bandit arranged BA]
Stanningley played Come and Sing Together and Russian Folk Song Sledging, both originally arranged by myself and then arranged further by Year Five themselves.
Oulton Year Six played Scale Song, Jamaica Farewell and Egyptian Reggae,
Before we started I discussed the question of smiling with the Wharfedale Committee members. This is a thorny point for us [from the Foxwood Panyard].
At the beginning of their gigging careers our children are getting used to concentrating, performing on stage, not being nervous, being confident - all the things that go with public performance.
They are also expressing themselves through their own playing and interacting with others in a deepest ensemble. If they want to move, tap their feet or smile we think it should be natural and spontaneous and grow out of their feelings for the performance.
I know that other steelbands train their players to do [sort of] synchronised jumps and dance moves, but personally I find these unnatural and somewhat disconcerting. Our players will move when they are ready. I did discuss this with the committee The wonderful adjudicator took all my comments on board, and picked out how the players were involved in their music-making in all the other subtle ways. We were all really pleased.