My Life in the Royal Marines Band Service - Circa 1947-1968

by Michael G. Hutton

During the rest of the week I got involved in as much as possible after attending aural, harmony and history of music lectures or lessons and I also received 'Cello' tuition from the great English 'Cellist' Cedric Sharpe who at that time was in his mid-eighties and only taught six pupils a week so I felt quite honoured to be one of them. I organised and played in various string quartets and trios plus featuring in four different brass groups. During my first term I also introduced the Wind Band to the RAM! I found that many of the wind, brass and percussion students who were not in any of the three main orchestras didn't get very much practice or experience at ensemble playing so I called a meeting of all these players and suggested forming a wind-band. There was a unanimous vote in favour so I commandeered lots of band music from the library in Deal and started it.

We rehearsed on a Wednesday evening in Dukes Hall at the academy and after about 3 or 4 sessions the band began to produce some good sounds. One evening halfway through a selection from 'West Side Story' unknown to me the Principal of the academy Sir Thomas Armstrong came into the hall and as I had my back to him I was unaware of his presence. He sat through to the end of the piece and then said to me that this band was not sanctioned by the academy and he would see me in his office in the morning. The following day at our meeting I got the impression that he was concerned that I had not sought permission to form the wind band which was not part of the official curriculum, but after apologising for not seeking his approval I explained my idea about giving second study students more scope to their musical education and he eventually agreed that it might be beneficial and said I could continue.

The wind band thrived throughout my year and we gave a couple of concerts which were very well received by the academy fraternity and teaching staff. Since that year wind bands have developed in all music academies and colleges throughout the UK so I feel quite proud that I instigated it all at the RAM.

I was home most weekends and having bought our bungalow in Walmer we were both busy making it a lovely home for the three of us. The toughest job was building a garage with concrete blocks to the rear of the bungalow after the local builder had given us a load of free cement for the base - which took me nearly all night to spread one weekend as I had to get it done before it set hard! WOW!

While in London from Monday to Thursday I stayed with my sister Eileen and family so it gave me the chance to see mum and dad and spend time with them - travelling from Pinner or Eastcote to Baker Street each day. Mum and Dad with Eileen and Alf had bought a detached house in Bridle Road between Eastcote and Pinner having had a brief spell in a village shop and post office business in Colliers End a small village in Hertfordshire.

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