Ok, the last post of 2020 and I promise (a) that it will be short and (b) no mention of the C word!
Christmas and brass groups have a long history and one which should be celebrated. Even before brass bands were formed groups of amateur players had been out and about in the community playing carols and seasonal music, in pubs, on village greens, local community centres, care homes, church services and other venues. In fact it has become one of the traditional sounds of Christmas to hear brass groups of all types and sizes playing carols to bring some festive cheer, and it is still not uncommon for players to be out on Christmas morning bringing Christmas carols to their local communities.
Brass groups do seem to have an affinity with Christmas music, the excellent series of “New Christmas Praise” books by the Salvation army are a staple of many bands seasonal music. The arrangements are very carefully and skilfully crafted so that they can be played by virtually any size of group, from a small quartet to a full band and sound equally good. They include is also a range of music from traditional Christmas carols to popular songs like “Mary’s boy child”, “Winter wonderland”, “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” and “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”. Bands who have this set can go to a carolling session with confidence that they won’t run out of music and it doesn’t matter who turns up to play.
There is also a wide range of music available from publishers which all add to the Christmas repertoire of bands. More formal Christmas concerts are also common, sometimes within church services others stand alone and many groups do more than use the carol books for these events, Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, Slade and Wizard also feature, and so that the audience can get involved there is of course with the obligatory singing of Christmas carols interspersed into the programme.
We must not forget that there is also a significant brass band section within the Salvation Army which provides seasonal music for their own services but are often seen out and about playing in shopping centres in the days and weeks before the day. Their repertoire is of course more religious in nature but there has been much fine music written for the Salvation Army bands which is always enjoyable to perform.
Now I know that many players do get fed up of playing Christmas music by the time the season arrives, but it is sometimes necessary to start practicing some of the more difficult pieces in October to make sure that they are up to scratch for a concert. We must not though, lose sight of the fact that there are many concerts given by groups all over the country which are inspiring and enjoyable for those who attend, and that the audience will only hear them once.
So in essence, brass groups of all descriptions are an integral part of Christmas and long may it continue. If you have any thoughts on brass bands and Christmas playing then do please make a comment, and don’t forget to click the follow button.
These will be my last thoughts in 2020, I hope you have enjoyed them, and I look forward to being back in 2021 with more thought provoking blogs .
Merry Christmas and a happy new year.