Bethan Spragg, has written about her musical journey from walking the dog, to performing on the Trumpet with the Essex Youth Brass, the Essex Junior Jazz, the Essex Youth Orchestra, various Brass Bands, the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain and now the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.
Since writing the story below, Bethan has won Musician of the Year at The Hertfordshire & Essex High School, 2020.
Read Bethan’s inspirational and entertaining story in full:
Whilst helping my Dad walk our Golden Retriever, we often met a lady walking her Black Retriever. Whilst chatting we discovered she taught piano and although she thought I was a little young (age 4) she agreed to give me a trial lesson. Having shown my ability to concentrate for more than 5 minutes she agreed to weekly lessons and I loved it!
Takeley Primary school were keen to encourage pupils to learn to play a musical instrument, and, having tried blowing mum’s clarinet and dad’s trombone, I opted for brass (sorry mum!) and the school loaned me my first trumpet.
I made rapid progress and got my own trumpet – then dad took me along to Bocking Concert Brass and playing with a group of other learners was a great help.
Having been invited to Essex Youth Brass Ensemble I found their conductor Steve Drury who dad persuaded to give me a masterclass, and then Steve agreed to become my regular trumpet tutor.
With Steve’s help and the fantastic support of Essex Music Services I was playing trumpet regularly with Essex Youth Brass Ensemble and Essex Junior Jazz by age 8, and playing in concerts, at fetes and other events on cornet with Bocking Concert Brass.
In 2015 I enjoyed two residential courses with Brass Academy and won their soloist competition, then auditioned successfully for National Children’s Orchestra (NCO) and thoroughly enjoyed their residential course in Dorset.
Mum had kittens whilst I had a fantastic week in Holland with Essex Youth Symphonic Wind Orchestra at age 10, and I went on to enjoy 5 years with NCO where I have made a number of life-long friends, and performed in concerts at fantastic venues including The Anvil, Basingstoke; Bridgewater Hall, Manchester; Colston Hall, Bristol, and Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Age 10, I moved from Bocking Concert Brass to Essex Police Band with whom I continue to play regularly, including each July at the Sandringham Royal Flower Show in front of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Throughout I have continued my piano lessons and regularly taken ABRSM exams on both piano and trumpet, achieving Grade 8 Trumpet at age 11 and Grade 8 piano at age 13.
Having played for 2 years in East of England Co-op Band I now play solo cornet for Championship section Redbridge Brass; trumpet with Essex Youth Jazz Orchestra, Essex Youth Jazz Sextet and Essex Youth Orchestra.
Along the way I won the Saffron Walden Music Festival in 2016 and 2019, and the Herts & Essex School Junior Young Musician of the Year three consecutive years.
I am looking forward to competing at Saffron Walden Music Festival again very soon and I am through to the regional finals of the Rotary Young Musician of the Year competition in which I will be competing in Cambridge in March.
I’m now in my third year at Junior Guildhall, and, being too old for National Children’s Orchestra, last year I successfully auditioned for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain with whom I enjoyed two great courses in 2019 and I’m really looking forward to performing with them again in Cardiff this Easter.
I had a great time in Germany last year with Essex Youth Orchestra and Essex Youth Jazz Orchestra and would like to say a huge thank you to Essex Music Services for their support and the fantastic opportunities their hard work has provided – and to mum & dad for taxi services too!