Meet the Music Makers

"Watford Band is one big family. We're playing with friends, we laugh together, and everyone helps each other!"

Musicians in Watford Band are passionate amateurs who devote a considerable amount of their time to rehearsing and playing pieces we perform. Some players have been involved for decades, others for a much shorter time, but everyone brings dedication and enthusiasm to playing and performing. Scroll down to meet some of the band!

Musical Director
Ian Graves
Principal Cornet
Karen Dovey
Solo Cornets
Jordan Low
Jon Pettifer
Amy Wicken
Soprano Cornet
Alison Perry
Cornets
Rob Henderson
Keith Blount
Irma Mullins
Chas Gillespie
Vacant
Flugel Horn
Harry France
Tenor Horns
Amy Robb
Vacant
Vacant
Baritones
Vacant
Peter Taylor
Trombones
Steve Marsh
Vacant
Stuart Marsh
Euphoniums
Shirley Wilson
James Hill
Eb Basses
Ken Eames
Robb Cross
Bb Basses
John Robb
Vacant
Percussion
Vacant
Vacant

Meet The Band

Below are profiles of some of our current band members!

What got you interested in brass playing?

I think it was when I didn’t want to go outside at school when it was raining and so chose to join the brass club at lunchtime.

What instrument do you play?

I play the Euphonium at Watford. I also play the French Horn and Tenor Horn with other bands.

How long have you been playing?

I’ve been playing for 17 years now.

What’s your most memorable playing moment?

Mmm, I’ve got loads but really enjoyed playing with Steven Mead at our 125th Anniversary Concert.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

That’s a tough one, I have lots, but I enjoy Trafalgar, Fantasia, Nimrod and film scores.

What do you enjoy about playing at Watford Band?

I enjoy meeting up with everyone, making music and generally being the trouble maker in the band.

What got you interested in brass playing?

While I was at primary school, I used to sing soprano in the school choir. We competed at the Burns Festival each January, and we won the Primary School section. Our music teacher took us to the Women’s Rural Institutes in Angus, where we performed songs from musicals, including Oliver and Mary Poppins. After my voice broke, I missed music. A year or so later, Angus Education Committee employed ex-military musicians in different disciplines, String, Woodwind and Brass. They visited all the secondary schools in Angus to enrol students in whichever instrument they chose. I wanted to play the trombone; however, I was given the Eb Bass, a few months later was given Bb Bass which I continue to play today. Each Saturday, I would go to the county town of Forfar to play in the Angus County Youth Band. The band represented Scotland at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon and appeared on television. I also joined Forfar Instrumental Band, where I played Bb Bass and took part in the Scottish Brass Band Championships and the Northern Counties Contests annually. After I moved away from Angus, I had a brief spell playing with an Aberdeen Brass Band, but then I didn’t play at all due to work commitments. After several years, my sister-in-law in Warwick invited me to play with her band at the time, Coventry Festival Band driving up and down from Watford. After a year, I joined my current band, Watford.

What instrument do you play?

I play Bb Bass Tuba

How long have you been playing?

What’s your most memorable playing moment?

There is not just one memorable playing moment. One is playing with Angus County Youth Band at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Also playing Under the Boardwalk at Watford’s 125th-anniversary concert.

What’s your most memorable piece of music to play?

Again, there’s not just one. There are just so many, but here are just a few, Light as Air, Ashokan Farewell, One Day More, Pirates of the Caribbean, Carmen Suite, First Suite in E-flat, Gustav Holst, Under The Boardwalk, Largo by Handel.

What do you enjoy about playing at Watford Band?

What got you interested in brass playing?

My dad, a Bb bass player in the band too, encouraged me to learn. At the age of 10 I tried my Aunty’s tenor horn first and could play it but then started to learn properly on cornet - my Aunty and my cousin are currently in Coventry Festival Band. Brian Harrison taught me initially and then Alan Pierce taught me through my Grade 3, they had both been members of the Watford Band. I played on and off with the Junior Band which was at Watford Band and at the age of 12 I then joined the main band on 3rd cornet up to the age of 16 when I was moved to solo cornet. I started doing my grades again when I met Paul Hooper who was in the Irish Guards at the time, he helped me gain Distinctions in both ABRSM Grade 5 Theory and Grade 6 Practical. He also helped me prepare for my grade 8 but Covid hit! For the 2022 Areas contest I was asked if I’d play solo horn, I said yes and the rest is history.

What instrument do you play?

I play Tenor Horn at Watford but still continue to play Cornet in a concert band.

How long have you been playing?

I’d say I’ve been playing for 12 years but in the band for 10 years.

What’s your most memorable playing moment?

Getting distinctions in both of those grades previously mentioned and passing the audition to play in the Army. Another moment close to my heart is my earliest memory of brass banding, I was 12 years old and on 3rd Cornet, I remember playing Jurassic Park (note: great horn part!) and sitting next to the late John Cooper, he would always always make me laugh, whether it was about his moustache, joking that him and the lady next to me were married because they were bickering, or telling me a lifetime of funny stories - from then on I always remember how happy brass banding makes me, that we’re all there for each other and like a family.

What’s your most memorable piece of music to play?

I think Jurassic Park for that reason above! ^

What do you enjoy about playing at Watford Band?

That we come together and support each other, and that we take time to have fun outside of banding too! I like that there are also chances to develop and challenge yourself in ways other than musically too - I’ve helped create some posters for the band, helped to design the current website, I run the band Instagram page and I’ve also completed the BandSafe (Brass Bands England safeguarding) course!

What got you interested in brass playing?

A work colleague offered to teach me to read music using a recorder, in which I passed Grade 2. The same colleague then invited me to join a small brass band/ensemble that he helped to run where they lent me a cornet and I began taking lessons.

What instrument do you play?

Cornet

How long have you been playing?

I began learning the cornet later than most, just before I retired, so about 9 or 10 years. The saying about old dogs and new tricks springs to mind.

What’s your most memorable playing moment?

Taking part with Watford Band in the National Brass Band Championship at Cheltenham in 2017.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

At the moment my favourite piece to play is Pirates of the Carribean. That's because when I first began rehearsing it with the band, I found it quite difficult and often got lost. However, I think I can now get through it without too many mistakes, so it's very satisfying to realise I must be improving.

What do you enjoy about playing at Watford Band?

I always look forward to meeting up for rehearsals as I have found the people at Watford Band to be friendly, very helpful and supportive. Many of them have been playing since they were children and they provide a great environment for more inexperienced players like myself to progress and meet the challenges of playing in a brass band.

What got you interested in brass playing?

I started playing in my last year at primary school. My friends had gone to the gym to try out playing some instruments which an ex-army gentleman (Mr Hillan) had brought into the school, and then my friends started getting out of lessons to go to ‘band’ practice, which was happening every day so I decided I wanted to go too, and after much persuading, my parents finally signed the letter to let me go, they were worried about ‘germ transfer’, we used to all share instruments, so goodness knows what germs were being shared – wouldn’t be allowed nowadays! We were so blessed in these days as we had 1hr band during school on Monday and Thursday afternoons, Friday morning and also a 2hr practice on a Tuesday and Wednesday after school – no wonder our players were some of the best in Fife! Our bandmaster taught at 3 primary schools, so the brass teaching in these schools was second to none. Mr Hillan’s players used to come away with so many medals and trophies at each of the solo and quartet contests that we had to play at, it was a good confidence booster; we had a schools solo & quartet contest and also a band’s solo and quartet contest each year and the winners and runners up went on to play at the Scottish solo and quartet contests just like the Full Band contests. When I look back, I now see that we had so many opportunities to play that our youngsters no longer have, which is very sad, and it is no wonder that the band world now suffers from a lack of young players!

What instrument do you play?

I started on the baritone but very soon moved onto Euphonium and have never wanted to change since. I love the Euph and if I couldn’t play that any longer, I wouldn’t want to play at all!

How long have you been playing?

Altogether I have been playing for over 50 years, but I did have a break for just over 20 due to a back and neck injury; the difference now is that I have my pain management under control.

What’s your most memorable playing moment?

This has got to be playing in the National Brass Band Finals at the Royal Albert Hall with Halls Oxford Concert Brass 1983 - test piece was Ballet for Band by Joseph Horovitz & then again in 1984 – test piece was Dances and Arias by Edward Gregson (the Band doesn’t exist any longer), and also playing on the BBC Best of Brass Contest in 1983. I also had the opportunity to play with the NYBBS (National Youth Brass Band of Scotland) in my teenage years, which was a fabulous experience each summer. I also enjoyed many tours abroad with the Young Ambassadors of Great Britain, which again was really fun whilst getting to see quite a few different countries. I really have had a very blessed playing career with many valuable opportunities of playing with outstanding soloists like Nick Childs and Steve Mead, most recently at the bands 125th Centenary concert in 2019.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

This is such a difficult question, but I have whittled it down to 3 favourite pieces, the first one being Le Roi D’Ys(The King of Y’s) by Edwards Lalo mainly because of the euphonium solo in it, but it is a gorgeous piece of music anyway, the second piece is The Year of the Dragon by Philip Sparke, Philip is an amazing composer, and I love all of his work, especially my third choice his Euphonium solo Pantomime which he tested out on me before releasing it to the brass band world, I was playing with Hillingdon Band which was conducted by Philip at the time (this is now the Chiltern Hills Band).

What do you enjoy about playing at Watford Band?

Well, if it hadn’t been for an urgent call for a Euph player to help the band out 3 years ago at the London and Southern Counties area championships, I would not be back playing after my long break, so a big thank you to my friend Elaine and the conductor Ian’s very persuasive words otherwise I would not have lifted my Euph up again.


What got you interested in brass playing?

I have a very romantic view of the cornet and brass bands - my Grandad, two aunties and an uncle played in the salvation army - my mum didn’t, not sure why. Two of my brothers joined the local brass band, Shirland Miners Band. One played the drums and the other the cornet; he went on to join the army playing professionally. He would bring the cornet home to have a blow. I played C major scale - first octave - but no one suggested joining or encouraging me. Which was a shame - I went to art college instead!

I wanted to play for years, so I bought a trumpet - tried to teach myself, put it away, but thought there was no hope. I met Alison, our soprano player, at a Mnozil Brass Concert - if anyone knows Alison, she talks to anyone - so she told me about the Watford Band. I got the trumpet out and realised quite quickly that I needed lessons.

Nick Garman is my tutor; he puts up with a lot but is excellent and encouraging. He got me through grade 3 on the cornet and continues to walk with me through the others! I spoke to Ian Graves, our MD, who said I could sit on 3rd Cornet. I am grateful for his encouragement. There I met John Cooper, who showed me the ropes, sometimes got me in trouble for talking, but it was both a challenge and fun.

So here I am - it’s been a challenge but enormously rewarding and fun.

What instrument do you play?

Cornet

How long have you been playing?

About 6/7 years

What’s your most memorable playing moment?

I enjoy the competitions and learn a lot whilst we rehearse. Who can say after only playing for three years they would be at a national band final - I was, thanks to the band and Ian.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

I enjoy playing and listening to test pieces - some are quite fantastic pieces of music. They tell a story, colour movement etc. I tend to like romantic music - one of the grade pieces I particularly love - Rusalka Song to the moon - listen to Lucia Popp sing it, quite stunning.

I am sure my band colleagues know I dislike some popular music we play on occasion - YMCA, to name one. But Watching the Girls Go By is fun (but probably not PC!)

So onwards and upwards, and you never know where I might end!

What do you enjoy about playing at Watford Band?

Their tolerance!

What got you interested in brass playing?

I have always liked music, as my parents did. When I was about 5, a neighbour let me have a go on his trumpet. I was too small to be able to hold it, so he let me try his cornet. My parents told me, years later, that under his instruction, I played a one-octave C major scale perfectly. I thought no more of it until, aged 9, and already a learner violinist, I misunderstood a joke. Our junior school music teacher used to come into the class at the start of the academic year and ask, "Who wants to play the violin?" He worked his way through the strings and woodwind, then "Any boy want to play the trumpet." This time, joking, he said, "Any girl want to play the trumpet?" 2 hands went up. The other girl knew he was joking. I took him seriously. The rest is history.

What instrument do you play?

With Watford Band, soprano cornet. Salvation Army, St Alban's City Corps band, Bb cornet. Borehamwood Brass, solo horn. Elstree Mozart Players, trumpet (Bb or Eb/D as needed). I will dep for other bands on anything from soprano to baritone.

How long have you been playing?

Over 50 years.

What’s your most memorable playing moment?

Carolling for HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip at Sandringham House, December 2007, with Stalham Band, under the direction of my cousin, Tim Thirst.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

I don't really have a favourite, although I do really like Messiah. Those baroque composers really knew how to write for high brass!

What do you enjoy about playing at Watford Band?

Everything! Making music with others, the total break from normal life pressures that band provides, playing music for others, stretching myself musically, being with my banding friends.

What got you interested in brass playing?

As a child growing up in a rural area of North- West Auckland, New Zealand, I wasn't interested in playing a brass instrument, even though most of my family played in the local band, there were too many other hobbies to pursue. After learning piano till I was 10, I was given a cornet, a few lessons and stuck in the band on 3rd cornet, where I slowly progressed. I wasn't interested in cornet and refused to practice but still seemed to move up the ranks and tried various instruments. At 17 I was selected for the Auckland Youth Band on horn and met some inspiring young musicians only then did my interest begin to grow as I realised there was a lot more to banding than a 4th section rural band.

What instrument do you play?

My chosen instrument is the Euphonium and I have always loved the sound that it produced in the right hands from a young age listening to my elder brother playing solo euphonium back in the 4th section band. Currently playing Solo Tenor Horn while work commitments and now a young family take my time from immersing myself back into the euphonium.

How long have you been playing?

I have been playing brass for about 30 years with a few breaks here and there. Most of my brass time has been spent playing the Euphonium with 15 years playing at a Championship level in New New Zealand and the UK.

What is your memorable moment?

I have been so fortunate during my time in Brass Bands meeting some amazing musicians, playing in some amazing venues and being able to preform as a soloist, on a concert or contest stage in New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland or the UK. The most memorable moment will always be playing at the Swiss Open in 2006 to a packed out KKL Luzern during the Waitakere Brass European tour.

What is your favourite piece of music?

There are so many brass arrangements and compositions that I have enjoyed to listen to or play, so it is a tough choice. Paganini Variations by Philip Wilby is the piece that has given me goosebumps every time I have played it or listened to it, making it my favourite.

What do you enjoy about Watford Band?

With a career that requires me to travel frequently and I have a young family, Watford offers me a stress free musical outlet when I am able to be at band. At this point in my life it is satisfying to be able to help a community band and give help to others. All the members of Watford are a great bunch of people and are there for the enjoyment of music no matter where they are with their journey as musicians.

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