What is Wessex Band Summer School?
Wessex Band Summer School is a summer course for brass, wind and percussion players of all levels and abilities. Under the expert direction of Musical Director Michael Fowles and a team of internationally renowned tutors and conductors, students play and rehearse a wide and exciting range of music. With over 43 years of experience and a long history of nurturing musical talent you are sure to improve your skills whilst having fun and making new friends.
The course is held at Sturminster Newton High School in the beautiful North Dorset countryside. Whilst not a residential course full catering is available during the day, for breakfast, snacks and lunch. Students are able to camp on site although some may choose to stay in one of the many guest houses or hotels in the area. Camping, which is run by the Wessex Camping Committee fosters a sense of community on the course. We pride ourselves on the social side of the course and because we are not residential families are most welcome. Families use the opportunity for parents to holiday in the area whilst their children attend the course during the day. We do of course have many older players as well.
Each year our team of conductors selects a range of music, some of which is brand new whilst some are timeless classics, for each of the ensembles. Throughout the week students rehearse the music in both full band rehearsals as well as sectional rehearsals. There is also one piece selected to be rehearsed and played by the Massed Band of the Wessex Band Summer School, where members of both the wind and brass bands join forces. In 2012 this piece was 'Windows of the World' by Peter Graham.
Wessex is a very friendly course. Many players past and present have forged life-long friendships whilst on the course. Evenings on the campsite include many activities for young, young at heart and families alike. These are run by the Wessex Camping committee.
Wessex draws tutors many of whom are well known in the brass band world. Currently our tutorial staff includes internationally renowned euphonium soloist David Thornton, tuba soloist and nominee for the 2012 4Bars Rest Player of the year Les Neish and musical director of the fabulous Acid Brass, Mike Eccles.
Our wind band tutors are drawn from the fields of education and music and boast many years of experience. These include Maj. David Marshall, ex Director of Music of the Coldstream Guards. Many of our tutors in both bands are ex-Wessex Summer School students.
The Training Band is for brass, woodwind and percussion players from grade 1 up to grade 4 standard. Adults or young players are normally at the earlier stages of learning. The week provides a progressive introduction to group playing for the less experienced musician. There is group tuition and specialised tutorials. The week finishes with a concert for parents and friends.
The Brass Band (brass and percussion) and Wind Bands (brass, woodwind and percussion) are for players of all ages from around grade 4 upwards. The days are made up of full band and sectional rehearsals on an exciting programme of music with a variety of items to challenge everyone.
The Course concludes with concerts for both the training and main bands on Saturday 3rd August . The Training band concert will be on Saturday Morning with the Main Band concert on Saturday afternoon. Both concerts are held at the stunning Exchange theatre in Sturminster Newton.
To find out about the history of the course please visit out History page.
We love to hear from you whether it is to find out more about the course, you have a comment or suggestion about the course or even about the website. In that case you can contact us by e-mail or by post:
Wessex Band Summer School,
5 Barton Close,
The Dates for the 2013 course are Monday 29th July 2013 to Saturday 3rd August 2013.
Wessex Band Summer School is the longest running course of its type as we are now approaching our 43rd year. We are also the only course catering for both wind and brass bands and featuring a massed band.
There are no auditions for the course and students indicate which part they would prefer to play.
We think the course is the best of it's type on the circuit, but don't just take our word for it. Here's what two previous students have to say:
"About 4 years ago, my brother and I were encouraged by home band members to come along to Wessex Band Summer School. It sounded like a good event to be part of; a week of playing with professional tutors, camping on a field with all our band friends and joining in with all the social events that take place on the campsite. We first attended the course in 2007, and it was as much fun as we thought! The tutors were all very friendly and helpful, camping was filled with all the usual sagas, but enjoyable at the same time, and the concert at the end of the week was good to hear what the other bands had been working on throughout the week – and if they had been working as hard as we had!
Me and my brother have been back to Wessex every year since, and are already planning tent sharing for July! It is such fun, we cannot miss it. The playing is a great way to build stamina, improve playing skills and experience the wonderful ability of the tutors from all 3 bands: the Brass Band, the Wind Band and the Training Band. All of the conductors bring pieces of different genres and difficulty, and all the members of the course find them highly enjoyable.
Camping at Wessex is also an entertaining part of the course. The evening activities on the campsite help to bring players from all the different bands together, making it a great laugh and a good opportunity to make plenty of new friends. Whether it is pudding club, family rounders, quiz night, campsite sing-a-long or the traditional Wessex style talent show, everyone has a laugh and agrees it is an extremely memorable week.
All in all, Wessex is a week that we would never want to miss; it is not even a question anymore as to whether we go or not! We look forward to meeting new people next course, and seeing all our old friends from the previous years. So if you like the sound of this - go on give it a blow!"
Matt and Emily
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