Professor Derrick James HOLDER

Derrick was born 29 May 1934 in Brighton and enlisted in the Royal Naval School of Music on 1 September 1948 at Burford, Oxon. as RMB/X 2551 a Solo Clarinet on the normal engagement of 12 years from the age of 18 called CS1 (Continuous Service 1st Period). As he was only 14 he served 3 years 271 days which didn`t count for pension; all perfectly normal for the times, during which he moved on 6 January 1950 with the movement of the RNSM to Deal, from whence it had been evacuated in 1940 due to the war; a vast difference from the relatively relaxed atmosphere at Burford, where the Band Service had largely run the roost. In early 1952 he joined CG squad No. 7, which readied the boys for rating on their imminent 18th birthday anniversaries to adult Musician 2nd Class, which for him in May 52 was swiftly followed by a Draft Order for SUPERB on the West Indies station, a much-desired destination. Returning to Deal on completion of an eighteen month commission which covered North and South America, after a few months on non-musical duties he then joined the band in HMS Victory barracks, since renamed NELSON, from March 54 to July 57. It was while serving here that he married Jacqueline and began a family. A daughter Melanie in April 56 and a son Andre in September 57.

Typically for the period, a spell ashore was usually followed by sea time, in this he joined the Home Fleet band which moved from ship to ship, chiefly MAIDSTONE or TYNE to fulfil its tasks and often involving uncomfortable living conditions, sometimes sleeping in hammocks and others camp beds. This constant movement seems to have precluded promotion due to lack of opportunity to get away on courses to get qualified. The long commission of 2½ years- probably one of the last of that length- was followed by a return to Deal and a year in the staff band. However, the "Call of the Sea" -emanating from a place called the Drafting Office- then still housed in Deal- had not done with Derrick, within a year he found himself joining a new band forming under Bandmaster Peter Lawrence for the new -style 20 month general service commission in VICTORIOUS, a wartime aircraft carrier that had had an extensive rebuild programme to equip it for modern jets and with the latest 984 radar system. This latter was the action station for the band and involved many hours on watch in the Aircraft Direction Room. The ship`s Captain was heard to remark he would have rather have had 16 naval RPs (Radar Plotters) than a band, which was a typically discouraging remark of the time, and no doubt helped to implement the move over the next ten years to withdrawal of permanent RM bands in ships by the early to mid 1970s. Derrick used to comment the one good thing serving in the Suez Canal was the ability to fry eggs on the deck of the ship! May 1962 saw this unrewarding experience followed by a year in RMB Eastney with the Portsmouth Group band. Now ashore, he was able to enjoy family life and things started to move for him with the necessary Junior Command Course at Lympstone, and promotion to Corporal was achieved in August 1964. By now well settled as a valued member of the Staff Band in Deal under Lt Colonel Dunn, he participated in dance band gigs with the Oceanaires throughout England; and in the biggest engagement of the era when, in 1965, the band toured the USA for three months. The last couple of years under Colonel and soon-to-be Sir Vivian, were highly demanding and intensely rewarding and personally for Derrick that in 1966 he was awarded the naval long service and good conduct medal (the Blue Peter Medal), for 15 years exemplary service.

Under Major Neville from 1969, many EMI recordings were continued from the long-running contract under Lt Col Dunn, and the band were regarded as extremely experienced studio performers. Derrick was able to qualify for Band Sergeant and progressed to this rank in July 1970. By now his overwhelming desire was to advance his personal ability on clarinet, and to this end in 1975 was able to get a move to Junior Wing to improve his instructional technique and insights into the psychology of teaching. Additionally in his spare time he was teaching clarinet at the King`s School in Canterbury The years were rolling on and he was already into an extended period of service that was due to end in 1979. Lessons with the world-famous clarinettist- and occasional performer at the concerts at Deal, Jack Brymer, all served to prepare Derrick for his developing ambition; to apply for a vacancy as one of the Professors of Clarinet at the RM School of Music, and this was achieved soon after he retired on pension in May 1979, almost 41 years after he first joined at Burford, taking over the vacancy created by the final retirement of Ken Mettyear who had himself been a forerunner of the art and one of the very first Instrumental Professors. Here he brought his own instrumental mastery to the benefit of the School; in developing a clarinet choir he helped in shaping the instrumental ability, as well as the characters of his pupils, to the ever-improving standards demanded by the profession and embraced by all three service music schools, the Army at Kneller Hall and the RAF at Uxbridge, as well as the RMSM. This position was maintained for sixteen years until the School of Music was required to relocate to Portsmouth in 1996, and those on the staff nearing the end of their careers decided to remain in Deal. Derrick had the great satisfaction of helping to produce a whole generation of ever-improving young musicians for the Royal Marines, as well as playing a huge role in the wider musical scene of East Kent and Canterbury schools in particular. This latter aspect was then continued by being invited to teach at the King`s School Canterbury (founded in the year 597 under St Augustine) under his old boss Colonel Paul Neville, who had been appointed Director of Music there the year before. Here, as well as teaching he would have participated in musical concerts by the scholars in the Shirley Hall, as well as the Cathedral and other settings in Canterbury until 1999.

His family have fond memories of him collecting his son from school following a sports event, driving home and then straight out again to be ready for an evening show at a local theatre. It was this desire to take opportunities to improve and succeed that continued from his service life, into the civilian world and into his family life. After he retired, possibly as a way of giving back to those who had assisted him as a band boy at 14 until he had reached the pinnacle of his career as principle clarinettist under Sir Vivien Dunn and Col Paul Neville, he spent many hours working in Dance bands in the local area or in Theatre orchestra locally. His main relaxation when he finally retired would be found in his garden, where he continued his service regime of "a place for everything and everything in its place". His love of gardening continued even though his health deteriorated in his last years.

It was pleasing to note the extremely positive comments posted on Facebook by those that he had taught whilst as an instructor and more latterly as a Professor. It showed the respect and gratitude of his students. Many comments described his patience as a teacher and his level of expertise and musical ability.

He is greatly missed by his family, friends and those who had worked with him in the service and in civilian life.

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