Clare Teal: Plastic may be a good thing for an ill-wind nobody blows

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It’s always great to be back up north. On Friday Grant Windsor and I made our Settle debut in the beautiful and intimate surroundings of Victoria Hall, on Saturday the BBC Radio Leeds Community Big Band headed up to Scarborough to appear in this year’s Coastival.

I don’t get to see the chaps very often and I’m always surprised at the quality of their playing in particular the younger members of the band who go from strength to strength. As you know I am a big band nut, there’s something magical about the combination of trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a rhythm section. Big bands can play quiet as a mouse one second then blast your face off the next, so uniquely they can handle virtually any kind of music you throw at them and still sound amazing.

Worryingly we have a national shortage of trombones or rather people to play them. As a kid I used to think the trombone as a comical prop akin to the bagpipes. As I’ve got older my appreciation of this stunning and versatile instrument has heightened to the extent that I now think trombones are ACE, (my feelings towards the bagpipes remain unchanged).

Musical instruments aren’t cheap, that said there are some rubbish cheaper trombones on the market some don’t even work properly, the player will most likely get frustrated by the poor sound or quality or both and give up. BBC Big Band conductor and total trombone legend Jiggs Whigham told me a couple of years ago that he was working with a company who had invented a plastic trombone. I smiled politely but couldn’t help thinking surely that’s not going to work. Since then I have heard great things, the best perhaps being the price which is just over £100. They are lightweight so easier for youngsters and those with weak arms like me to lift, also they come in a range of funky colours which is bound to help the overall image of the instrument. This is a great affordable good quality, student level instrument with added street cred.

We have a fantastic brass tradition in this country which we’re in danger of tarnishing unless we find more accessible and affordable ways for the youth of today to get involved.