My name is Emma Peacock, I’m an Army musician and I play flute and piccolo in The Band and Bugles of The Rifles. I have been here two years, after completing Phase 1 training at ATR Pirbright and Phase 2 at The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.
It has been quite a quiet time for the band recently so this has given us a lot of time to focus on individual music practice and lots of ensemble and sectional rehearsals, and to catch up with various administration tasks required to run a band. My admin role is as recruiting assistant and we’ve managed to complete a lot of work recently. We started off with a recruiting drive at ‘The Platform’ in Swindon. Swindon Music Services were running a day of performance with many bands coming and showcasing their talent. We set up a Band and Bugles stand and I spent the day in Ceremonial uniform speaking to many young musicians about The Corps of Army Music. We managed to generate a lot of interest in Army Music. It was also an enjoyable day for me as I spent it listening to some very talented youth music groups.
Additionally, we ran an Insight Day for 3 musicians who were interested in joining the British Army. After picking them up from the train station and some introductions they joined us for a full band rehearsal. They showed great ability and potential for joining the Corps. After lunch we gave them a tour of camp to show them the sort of environment they might train, live and work in. They were very surprised to see how nice the accommodation was and it helped break some common misconceptions about Army life. That afternoon Musician Wood and myself gave a short recruiting presentation and then we held a question and answer session. Later on that day, one of the Insight Day participants even got up and played in front of all the Corps trainees during performance experience training. All in all, it was a very good day and I think those who attended got a lot out of it, as well as enjoying themselves.
Perfecting the display
We’ve also had two very big inspections recently. The first was the Colonel Commandant’s Annual Inspection. This is a big deal for us, with General Sir Nick Parker taking the inspection, so a lot of time had gone into perfecting the marching band display. To announce his arrival the massed Bugle Platoon and two Bugle courses played a fanfare, and after this was a group photo, followed by the presentation of the new Sounding Retreat.
As usual he enjoyed it but had a few comments to make and changes had to be done. After this was the Bugle Competition. The buglers had been tested already that morning on drill and turnout and the top ten were then picked to move on to play a bugle call, The Last Post and then Mechanised Infantry. From this the top buglers were picked. In first place came Lance Corporal G Merchant, in second was Rifleman R Loudon, and in third was Rifleman A Creighton. Well done to all who took part!
A week later was The Corps of Army Music inspection, which meant we were on the drill square again to present the new Sounding Retreat. After this we were in the practice room for a new part of the inspection. For this the Principle Director of Music sat in a rehearsal to watch the development of a piece from sight reading to performance. Both the Director of Music, Major Lawrence Sale, and Assistant Director of Music, Lieutenant Lauren Petriz-Watts, conducted a piece and they seemed to run smoothly enough, with the final results being very good.
We have supported a number of Pass Off Parades of late in Winchester and supplied musical support for a boxing night at The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. The evening went very smoothly, with some very good bouts. In between the first and second half we played some background music. This included ‘Gangnam Style’!
Recently we travelled to sunny Exeter in Devon to play for a Homecoming Parade. For us it was a little strange as it was a heavy paced march, so we hadn’t taken any buglers. Consequently, the coach journey down was very quiet! There was a good crowd for the parade and then we were welcomed to the gathering afterwards where the town mayor spoke to a few members of the band.
A couple of days later we headed down to The Royal Military School of Music in Twickenham to be duty band for a few days. This involved us being the band for student bandmasters to practice conducting with. This is always a good, but challenging, experience as the student bandmasters are learning and the music is usually new to us! A few members of the band also helped out the phase 2 trainees with their repertoire band and marching band.
Having recently been issued our new General Service Respirator (GSR) it was time to try them out. Once we put them together and checked that the vacuum was sealed we went over the drills. The new unit seems really good, however most of the members of the Band and Bugles struggled to get them on in time, especially while wearing the issued gloves. When the practice was over it was time to do the real thing in the Respirator Testing Facility. This is a glorified shed which fills up with CS gas! If we complete the drills correctly we don’t feel the effects of the gas, however, do something wrong and you come out with very tingly skin, eyes watering and snot running down your face! Luckily the Band and Bugles all performed up to scratch and came out with no harm done.
Find out more about Army music on the Corps of Army Music website