Musician Tom Cudworth is an Army Reservist cornet/trumpet player with The Band of The Yorkshire Regiment and a full-time student at York St John University, studying for a degree in Music Performance. He is currently in Ethiopia as a member of the latest Corps of Army Music Short Term Training Team, coaching musicians for the Ethiopian Defence Force Band and Ethio-Somali Regional Police Band.
My initial feeling upon hearing that I’d been selected as a member of the Short Term Training Team (STTT) going out to Ethiopia and Djibouti to train the army musicians out there was one of excitement. I was going to a foreign country, I was going to be working with a team of Regular Army CAMUS musicians and I was going to be representing my country. My second thought was one of apprehension; I was going to a foreign country, I was going to be to be working with a team of Regular Army CAMUS musicians and I was going to be representing my country!
For a twenty year old music student who joined the Army Reserves because it was a good part time job with good pay, regular chances to perform and it looked good on my CV, this was a daunting concept. It quickly dawned on me that this was going to be completely different to the freedom and passing out parades I’d been doing for the last year. I was going to have to quickly familiarise myself with many aspects of military life I had never experienced before because they weren’t covered on the training for Reserve musicians.
As part of the team I would be helping to take the Ethiopian musicians through marching band lessons, going through manoeuvres such as crown counter marches and bomb bursts, neither of which I had done before. I was going to be away on a deployment for the first time without the security of knowing I had the direct support of the members of my own band (The Band of The Yorkshire Regiment). I was also going to have to work quite hard, which is not a concept most university students are familiar with! But I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge and as the departure date edged ever closer my excitement began to increase again.
Working with a group as culturally different and diverse as the Ethiopian Ministry of National Defence musicians has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and an interesting challenge to work through – the language barrier has been the biggest. Many times have I found myself trying to convey something in a lesson or rehearsal and failed miserably at first which has led to a whole new form of hilarious sign language evolving.
After being here for nearly two weeks now I don’t know why I was so worried. Although at times it’s been tiring, frustrating and quite often bewildering, I have loved every single second.
Here’s to the next two weeks.