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

by Michael G. Hutton

I was also getting on very well with Joan Joy and her family who lived in Wilson Avenue Deal and I spent a lot of my spare time up at their house.

The year wasn't all sport and girls! There was some very serious learning going on. Both Euphonium and 'Cello progress were going well and there were many concerts, parades and other musical activities to keep us all busy plus examinations to check that our progress was satisfactory.

Every boy at the school had to be taught to play one or two sometimes three instruments. If you were a Trumpet & Cornet player you would be expected to be a principal Trumpet in the orchestra, 1st Cornet in the Military Band and Trumpet in the Dance Band. Some Cornet players who were not principal players were expected to learn the Violin or Viola. This also applied to Clarinet and Saxophone players who had to have the Violin or Viola as their second instrument, but some Solo Clarinet players just played the one instrument in Orchestra, Military Band and Dance Band.

Other woodwind instruments like the Oboe and Bassoon because they were particularly difficult to master were single instrumentalists, but would probably become very good as Bass Drummers or Cymbal players. Flute & Piccolo were paired with the Piano which was what I had originally wanted to do, but now having been playing the Euphonium & 'Cello I would never have wanted to change.

Some of the other Brass instrumentalists were single handed for example the French Horn (the most difficult of the brass family) and the Trombone as they would appear in both Orchestra and Bands. However the heavy brigade as we were sometimes known were Euphonium & 'Cello, Tuba & Double Bass (that's a string bass of course!) Euphonium and Tuba in the Military Band and 'Cello and Double Bass in the Orchestra.

The Percussion class covered all percussive instruments from the tiniest Triangle to the large Timpani, so these guys had many instruments to master as they would be engaged in all forms of music making. Lastly there was the Drum & Bugle branch. These boys were the very smart ones you would see at the front of the band when marching. Their superb stick drill has been admired all over the world and it does take many many hours practice to get it to perfection.

We spent many hours playing in different combinations of instruments which would benefit us in the years ahead when serving on HM Ships. Sometimes there might be a band of 40, or maybe 18, or perhaps only 6! It would just depend on the situation we were in and the space available. Our instructor Sgt Morris had in his cupboard some amazing arrangements of Opera melodies, show tunes, Overtures and even parts of Symphonies all for Euphoniums with about 8 different parts. We could also use these with the 'Cello Class.

1951 was the start of my last few months as a 'Boy Musician' Life for the first term up to Easter was preparing for our final term in the boys wing and along with many of my age group we were to form the 5th Commandant Generals Squad which would take up most of the summer term with a final passing out parade in July when we would all become fully qualified musicians.

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