Nationals – A View From The Back

This year – as every year *wink* – our Super Percussion Extraordinaires were revved up for another Brass Band Championships! This year was slightly different as we had two ‘green’ members, Tamara and Dick, who were yet to experience the challenges of being a Percussionist at Nationals…

As most already know, our Nationals week starts a little earlier than most as all our gear must be packed into a truck the night before we leave. Now this isn’t a few drums tacked onto a kit! We have a commanding set of percussion with 3 timpani, a huge bass drum (I can fit inside it! 2x!), gong, snare, tomtom, xylophone, vibraphone etc… With all those instruments you would be forgiven in thinking that this is an incredibly time-consuming and … well … heavy task but our wholehearted thanks must go to Rick and all his helpers for making it a somewhat easier effort to arrange many oddly shaped cases into a big rectangular box on wheels!!

We arrived somewhat early for the early bird flight to Christchurch on Tuesday (yes it was early!!) but landed in a somewhat crisp morning in the Garden City. After a little light shopping and an eventful ‘Sex in the City’ screening we settled in for a quiet night at Riccarton Motor Inn, until Nick bought out SingStar anyway. Congratulations to Tim who was finally able to beat the Queen of SingStar, Kayla Garrett, and to Edrick for trying! Wednesday came and we were thankful to report that Rick and Vince managed to survive the ferry ride with our instruments and the task of setting up percussion was placed in our hands!

We have such a fantastic bunch of young ones in our band (I’m still a young one!!) and it was this group that were able to speedily set up the band with stands and chairs in the Dining Room which was to be our rehearsal venue for the week.

After dedicating our Wednesday and Thursday activities to watching solos and party events I think we managed to learn a few things… apparently judges can tell if you drop drum sticks in the middle of solos. All minor mistakes aside – again our young people came through with some fantastic results and the older members of the band played well against top competitors from around the country. Thursday night was set aside for us percussionists as we trotted off to the Percussion Seminar with Simone Rebello. This was a thoroughly encouraging event and we were able to learn heaps from this incredibly talented musician. We had loads of fun attempting to copy complicated rhythms with our hands and feet!

Friday and Saturday mornings we were up early for a last minute practise and then it was time to load all instruments onto the truck to go to the Town Hall. After drawing the short straws both times Josh and Tamara were loaded into the truck as well to make sure nothing was damaged in transit. We arrived in plenty of time and were able to sit down, hurry up and wait. A few nerves here and there but once we were on stage we were ready to go! Coming off stage all of us felt we had played to the best of our abilities and the adrenalin performing juices had Tamara and I shaking in our shoes but our work wasn’t done just yet! Once we had finished up on Saturday afternoon it was back to the motel to unpack the truck and take down our percussion ready for the ride home. Again thanks must go to Rick and the rest who helped with this tricky task!

Thanks everyone to a fantastic contest and see you all in Napier!!

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