Thursday, March 17, 2016

Keep Dreaming...

by Kevin Price
(Head of Brass and Percussion, 
Royal Welsh College of Music Drama)

I was born in New Zealand. I first saw a trombone when I was four, in a brass band. That was the beginning of lifelong obsession. The only was problem was that my arms were too short, so I learned the trumpet and hung from the cross-bar of my wardrobe, hoping for gravity to solve the problem. Eventually, my arms grew and a trombone arrived. I loved it.

For my 12th birthday, I was given a record of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, called Easy Winners. The first trombonist was called John Iveson and I had never heard anything as beautiful. His playing sounded like gold. That was the beginning of my second obsession; to travel to the UK and to learn from John. I worked in a music shop, worked on a farm and did as many paid jobs as possible throughout my school days in order to save for my big trip to the other side of the world. Practice sessions always began at 7am and I tried to imagine that I was training like an All Black, working towards a world cup. I worked through all of my ABRSM grade exams and used some of my savings to order music and recordings. None of my school teachers or friends really understood this total obsession: why would anyone want to leave a gorgeous county like NZ and risk everything on the other side of the world?

Early inspiration from the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble quintet

Despite my mammoth efforts to save enough, the NZ dollar was very weak against the pound and it seemed impossible to get enough money together in order to stay long enough in the UK. I worked through my ABRSM grades and eventually sat my LRSM in Auckland. The examiners asked me about my aspirations and when they heard my story, they asked me to return the next day in order to record my recital programme, which was sent to ABRSM in London. ABRSM wrote me a letter, confirming three years of scholarship support to study in London. I still can’t believe that happened! I flew to the UK with a suitcase and a trombone, knowing only one person in the entire country. It’s now 27 years later and I am still here, having spent time as Principal trombone of RLPO and now as Head of Brass and Percussion at RWCMD. I can’t believe that either!

KP and the RWCMD Brass Ensemble in Llandaff Cathedral

Music has made my life into an adventure. I had no idea what would happen when I stepped onto the plane, heading for London. John Iveson and I became good friends and his teaching enabled me to take a step into the music profession in the UK. Along the way, I have met so many of my musical heroes and have been introduced to an incredible array of people who work in music. I met one of them yesterday. She was visiting Cardiff to hear the BBC Young Musician competition at RWCMD. She runs a famous music company that I have always used to buy my books and sheet music. Her name is Rachel Emerson, from June Emerson Wind Music. You may have heard of it…

Rachel and I have been in contact many times by email and through the music orders that are placed by RWCMD, but we had never met. Yesterday, we compared stories and soon realised that our lives have both been shaped by an obsessive love of music and of musicians and that we feel totally committed to supporting and nurturing the future of our art form.

Given that you are reading this, I suspect that you feel the same as us. If so, my advice is to totally dedicate yourself to music and try to regard your life as an adventure, with music leading you along the way. You will meet incredible people, hear amazing sounds and will never know what is around the corner. It can be scary at times, but it’s always enormous fun…good luck!


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