Meet the Band: Howard Groves

Apr 18, 2024

Howard Groves

It all started for me around 1970 when my primary school (Western Junior, Grimsby) purchased 2 Clarinets and 2 Trumpets.

I was chosen to play one of the trumpets, don’t ask me why, I don’t know. I remember my Mum was quite supportive of the idea, however Dad’s reaction was along the lines ‘not within my hearing!’ which he kept up until the time I left home. Not that it mattered anyway as we weren’t allowed to play the instruments at any time other than during our lunch break under the supervision of a teacher. Looking back it was all very strict and we had to practice every school day. However, the end result was by the time I went to senior school I was quite a good player for my age.

Senior school for me was Hereford Comprehensive, Grimsby. It was a school with a good reputation for its support of music. Straight away I was encouraged to join the school Wind Band and Junior Orchestra, and by the end of the year had been summoned to play in the Senior Orchestra as well. The Head of Music had close links with the local Youth Orchestra organisation so by the end of my 2nd year I was playing in the Youth Wind Band and Intermediate Orchestra. By the age of 14, I was playing in the Senior Band and Symphony Orchestras as well being introduced to Swing Music via the Youth Swing Band. I also became the youngest musician to play on an exchange visit to Bremerhaven in Germany. A tradition, I continued to take part in until I moved to Matlock Derbyshire in 1983.

All female tube quartet - Euphoria
Youth Orchestra Swing Band – Germany 1977
Schools In Valley Of Tunes
Howard Groves

Ok, so what about Brass Banding? Well during my time playing in the various youth bands and orchestras I was lucky enough to be taught by 2 exceptionally talented peripatetic teachers. Duncan Connors {trumpet] and John Ventris [Eb Tuba]. Both encouraged me to play with a Brass Band as they said I would find the music more challenging and ultimately more rewarding and something I could continue with way beyond my school years. So, following their advice, I first went to Grimsby Brass Band in around1974. Grimsby at the time were an up-and-coming 2nd Section Band with Denzil Stevens being their MD. I played 2nd Cornet with them for a short while. However, having played and rehearsed the test piece ‘Suite Gothique’ I was dropped in favour of another player for the Nottingham Championships in 1974. This was the first time anything like this had happened to me and I was devastated. I decided to pack in anything to do with Brass Bands and concentrate on playing Trumpet and Flugel in the various jazz and swing bands in my local area. This kept me interested and I got paid as well, plus the occasional visit to Germany. Then some friends persuaded me to have another go with a local Brass Band. So I found myself once again back on cornet and playing this time for 3rd Section Cleethorpes Band. I remember my best time with Cleethorpes Band was around 1979, when we came 5th in the Regionals at the De Montford Hall Leicester playing ‘The Shipbuilders’. I continued playing in the local area in the local Youth Orchestra Swing Band in which I had now become lead trumpet going on several visits to Germany. By this time also doing an amount of depping in some of the local semi pro club bands in the seaside resort part of Cleethorpes. During this time, I was fortunate enough to play along with Humphrey Littleton and Dizzy Gillespie.

Glossop Band – 1980’s

Then came an 18 year break due to a promotion within the Fire Service which made it impossible for me to continue as a regular bandsman.

Upon my retirement from the Fire Service in 2009 I returned to the banding scene playing with Arnfield Brass on EEb bass. I continued to play there for the next few years during which time a car accident in which I smashed my wrist forced me to go back onto cornet. I also wanted to do more contesting and as Arnfield Brass weren’t a contesting band apart from the Whit Friday Marches I started looking for a contesting band to join. Glossop Old Band were a full band with no vacancies so when The Marple Band advertised for back row cornet players I applied and was offered a place on 2nd Cornet.

Schools In Valley Of Tunes

This was in 2013 and the following year at the Regionals Marple came 2nd playing ‘Chaucer’s Tunes’ and qualified for the National Finals at Cheltenham. At the National Finals under our new MD Sarah Groarke-Booth we played’ Traversada’ by Oliver Waespi and became the 2014 Second Section National Champions.

Second Section National Champions 2014

I’ve continued playing for Marple up to this very day. The only difference being that I’ve well and truly joined the ‘Dark Side’ of the band scene as I now play Bb Bass.

Note: Some of the dates in this profile may not be entirely correct. All due to the lengthy time over which I’m trying to recall distant memories.