Lance Corporal Daniel King is principal clarinettist in the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals (RSIGS BAND). Here he writes about being an Army musician, a role which allows him to perform at many high-profile events across the UK and abroad.
During the quiet period at the beginning of the year the band takes the opportunity to learn this year’s new marching display. Throughout the period of the year the band will perform this display at beating the retreat all across the country and abroad. We have to learn the display now because if we leave it any later we will not have enough time in the working programme to fit it in.
Due to the weather it was not easy to get a rehearsal outside so the band booked the largest indoor space available on Blandford Camp. This happened to be the gymnasium floor. Although not what you would normally expect to see in a gymnasium, the band took advantage of the large floor space to rehearse the new movements. Each year the band tries and does a completely different display. If it is always the same it gets very boring.
With the Olympics this year the band attempted to create the five interlocking rings, although it didn’t quite work out on the first attempt I am sure they will find a way to incorporate the Olympics in the display. We also tried a few more movements before heading back to the band block.
A few days later we packed all our gear and headed off to Germany for a week and a bit. We departed on coach from Blandford on the Tuesday morning and after a 10-hour journey we reached Elmpt Station near Monchengladbach. The band was to be involved in a medal parade at where HRH Princess Anne was presenting the medals. I wasn’t involved in the parade so I was utilised to take photos of the band.
The day after we arrived there was a rehearsal day and the next day was the parade. I had been struggling to find something bad to say about the brass section in this blog until Musician Dan Shave handed me something on a plate! During the march off he got a little confused during the counter-march (Bless Him) and went the wrong way. To make things worse for himself, he got on the wrong foot and for the whole of the march off he was out of step. Well done Dan! We are only human and we all make mistakes sometimes.
On the Friday we packed up again and climbed on a very full bus. We travelled over by civilian coach with trailer but for the next part of the tour we were being looked after by the Bundeswehr (German Army), and they didn’t provide a trailer. We travelled down to Bavaria (About half an hour from Munich). We stopped at the German military hospital for our lunch on the way. This journey took about 12 hours. We were greeted when we got off the coach to freezing cold temperatures and lots of snow. On the Friday we weren’t due in work till mid-afternoon so the band made the most of the weather, some choosing to take a very scenic walk to the nearest town and the more mature of us decided to make a snowman and throw copious amounts of snow at each other…. I lost.
We gave a concert that evening in the nearby town of Tutzing. After the concert we were invited into the Rathaus (Town Hall) for a beer and some food. We do lots of engagements all around the world and it is always nice when you are appreciated. We are always looked after by the people of Tutzing (we have been here before), this year they gave every band member a two-litre bottle of homebrewed Bavarian beer! I can tell you all, it was beautiful. And if any people from Tutzing read this, thank you very much. The following day we did another concert this time in the town of Wörthsee. We were given a fantastic meal after the concert here as well.
The next couple of days gave the band a chance to look at some of the beautiful scenery that Bavaria has to offer. We travelled early on the Monday morning to a small village called Ettal. Combined with the snow it makes a very beautiful picturesque village. We then travelled a little bit further to see the Neuschwanstein Castle; this was the castle that was used for the fictional country of “Vulgaria” in the film “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
On the Tuesday morning we travelled into Munich for a look around the BMW museum. When we got there we found out that they had in fact opened the museum an hour early especially so we could be given a VIP guided tour! From here we visited the Hofbrauhaus (Big brewery in Munich). The band enjoyed this very much!
The following day we packed up again and made our way back to the UK. This wasn’t a particularly fun journey due to the length of it. First was the journey back to Monchengladbach (12 hours) to change coach back to a civilian one, which was followed by the 10-hour journey back to Blandford. We arrived back at 4am on the Thursday morning and after getting home to bed around 5am, I was awoken by my daughter at 8!