Jump on the band-wagon...

The Bute Community Band, seen here in concert in June 2014, have a busy year ahead of them with performances scheduled at Loch Fyne Food Fair and the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival.
The Bute Community Band, seen here in concert in June 2014, have a busy year ahead of them with performances scheduled at Loch Fyne Food Fair and the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival.

Do you have an instrument gathering dust at the top of your wardrobe that hasn’t seen the light of day since your school days? Maybe you’ve inherited a relative’s old instrument, and you’d love to have a go yourself?

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a relative newcomer to live music, Bute Community Band would love to welcome you.

The band was established in 2010 under the direction of former Rothesay Academy instrumental instructor, Tony Spencer, who felt there were few opportunities for Bute’s musicians on the island to play after leaving school.

In the four years since, the band has attracted more than 25 members of different abilities and backgrounds with a love for music. A swing ensemble has also grown from within the ranks of the main band, with around a dozen players playing a range of big band favourites and jazz classics.

It is hoped that the swing band will be making its debut at this year’s Isle of Bute Jazz Festival in early May.

Among those who have enjoyed a return to performing is Erin MacDonald, who teaches at Rothesay Primary.

“I started playing trumpet in primary school,” Erin said. “My tutor didn’t put me in for any grading exams, so I never knew if I was any good! I continued to play throughout high school.

“On the last day of my high school career, at my own graduation ceremony, I dropped my trumpet on its mouthpiece. The neck crumpled and the mouthpiece was stuck. I wrapped my poor, bent trumpet up in bubble wrap, put it in my wardrobe and didn’t look at it again for nine years.

“When I moved to Bute, I heard there was a community band. I decided to borrow my sister’s trumpet and try it out for a week or so. I didn’t think I would ever be able to read or play music again, but the skills came back to me quicker than I had imagined!

“The members of the band made me feel right at home, and before I knew it, a new trumpet had made its way onto my Christmas list!

“That was three years ago! Since then, I have enjoyed many opportunities to rehearse and perform with these wonderful musicians, who encourage me and help me to learn.

“I can’t imagine my life without it now!”

* If you’d like further information on how to get involved, contact the band’s chairman, John Blick, by emailing thebrasstutor@gmail.com, or committee member Tim Saul by emailing tim@brechins-bute.com, or phoning (01700) 502922 [work] or (01700) 503640 [evenings].