I was attracted by sax appeal - why not join me? asks Vicky

Published on: 24 Feb 2017

A SAXOPHONIST is encouraging others to join a Staple Hill-based wind band, saying it has made her proud to be a member of the community.

Vicky Styles, 37, started practising the violin at primary school but stopped playing when she started university.

Then, during a community open day at Page Park three years ago, she stumbled upon a new band, called Westerly Winds, which were offering try-out sessions of different instruments.

But instead of reaching for the violin Vicky picked up a saxophone - and fell in love.

She now plays regularly as a saxophonist with the band, taking part in as many community events as possible.

Vicky said: "The musical director had a stall at Page Park and you could try instruments out. I'd always wanted to play the saxophone so I tried it and loved it and it was full-steam ahead from there!

"We were set up as a band for beginners and we were took through the instruments step by step being taught as a band rather than individuals. We've always been playing group music together which is really motivating.

"The great thing about our band is that we play all genres of music so there's something for everyone. We play familiar classical pieces like the theme from the rugby but also play pop and folk songs. It's a really eclectic range. All of those different styles really help your musical development too.

"There are about 25 of us involved, most of us the core people who have been there since the beginning. We are trying to share our love of music with others who also appreciate music. 

"We are a very active band and very much see ourselves as part of Staple Hill. We like to be involved in everything which happens in Staple Hill, from Christmas on the Hill to playing at local schools. We are proud to be part of our local community actively taking part in as many events as we can in and around the area."

Having outgrown the band's rehearsal home at Staple Hill Library, Westerly Winds has now settled at the new youth centre in the converted former primary school building.

Vicky, who lives in Staple Hill, said: "It's brilliant. They've done a fantastic job of regenerating the building and now we meet there every Wednesday evening."

The band is for adults aged 18 plus, with one of its oldest members in his late 80s.

Westerly Winds is part of the charity Avon Wind Band Association which runs four bands and is starting a fifth learner group.

Vicky said: "The highest is Phoenix which has grade 8 musicians and they play at very formal concerts. We're the third band in the family and are about a grade 3/4.

"We are one of four bands in the family of bands so there are places to move up to if you progress faster than other people. 

"I'd absolutely encourage anyone who wants to play an instrument, or develop their skills on an instrument, to come along. It's really supportive and friendly. I love it and I'm in my element when we play together. It's given me a new focus and has also given me a new social focus. It opens up so many opportunities. 

"There's something very magical about playing as a group. Learning an instrument in isolation, which is what I did with the violin, can be quite solitary but having a group goal is a fun and enjoyable way to learn an instrument."

If you would like to find out more about joining Westerly Winds or other bands in the family  please email staplehillmusic@yahoo.co.uk or phone Sue on 0117 962 9080. You can also get in touch to find out about booking Westerly Winds for your event.

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