Follow Musician Emma Peacock who plays flute and piccolo in The Band and Bugles of The Rifles. She has been in the band for a year and a half, having completing Phase 1 training at ATR Pirbright and Phase 2 at The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.
After a few days off on leave to rest and spend time with family, the Band and Bugles were back and ready to work again. First thing thrown at us as we walked through the door was a mock PFA (Personal Fitness Assessment)! Usually this consists of press-ups, sit-ups and a mile and a half timed run and, however today was just the run. Feeling refreshed and invigorated after the morning exercise the band met together in the practice room for a welcome back brief from the Band Sergeant Major, WO2 Andrews. This was mainly to check that we were all ok, give us any news and update us on any upcoming jobs. We then all caught up on some admin, whether this was in the library, the clothing or instrument stores or to do with the finance or running of the band. That afternoon we did a rehearsal for full band, getting ourselves back in the musical mindset.
Wednesday was just a day in the office for us, an unusual occurrence. Admin and individual instrument practice took place in the morning and sport and fitness training were in the afternoon. For this many of us went to the gym and ‘got massive’.
Thursday morning the Band were outside ready for some fitness training. However, this time it was a little different to our normal running or circuit training. We were dressed ready in combats, boots and Burgens (a military backpack) for an OFT (Operational Fitness Test). This involved a mile and a half warm up jog and then another mile and a half best effort run, all timed and with weight on your backs. Phew! It was hard work and not what a “bandie” is used to, but great for keeping fit! After this we had ensembles and individual instrument practice time. Much of our time, in and out of work hours, is spent doing individual practice as we need to keep our skills up for our job. While people were practicing, some unfortunate few were sent down the medical centre for Hepatitis B and the Influenza jabs. Luckily, I didn’t have to go! That afternoon was spent doing full band rehearsals for an upcoming job. We’re playing at a boxing event so we practiced such classics as ‘Rocky’ and ‘Eye of the Tiger’!
We were up early the next morning as we had to travel to the Army Training Centre, Pirbright for a Pass Off Parade. As it was the 11th of November we were minus the bugles as they were scattered round the country playing ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’. We marched the troops round camp for their rehearsal at a steady 120 beats per minute, and then on to the square to continue a short rehearsal. At 10.50 the band marched on to the square for a brief remembrance parade with the ‘Last Post’ sounded by Musician Lee Marsden. The service was short but poignant as it was the trainee soldiers on parade with some of their families watching. There was only about 15 minutes before we were back on the square, marching some very proud soldiers on for their Pass Off Parade. Their necks were in the back of their collars as they marched with their families and friends cheering them on.
On Remembrance Sunday the band didn’t have to travel very far this year as we took part in a short parade through our local city centre,Winchester. Again we were minus the buglers so marched at the more sedate pace of 120 bpm. It was a nice day with a good turn out for such a small city. It is good to know that despite this country’s difficult financial times and sometimes bad media portrayal, the country is behind the British Army, still remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. It is a great honour knowing that all round the country people were attending ceremonies like this one and meaning it when they say “We Will Remember Them”.