At the end of yet another busy year at the contesting comprehensive (we don’t go private at 4BR) the Headmaster has written his reports on the 20 pupils in the top band class.
It was a season of two halves as the sports master would say.
Not a vintage year overall, but a pleasing one as a little bit of history was created and we welcomed four new pupils – two of which (Noord Limburgse and Brass Band Schoonhoven) will make our annual trip to the European Baccalaureate exam easier to sell as an educational ‘must see’ to hard up parents.
Hello and goodbye
We also welcomed a fourth Welsh speaker in the tea-total Tongwynlais Temperance (who can join that other lemonade sipper Rothwell in the milk bar) whilst former pupil Virtuosi GUS returned after a year in the woodwork class making percussion instruments.
They replaced underachievers Reg Vardy and Desford, the brash American of Central Florida, who couldn’t get on with the damp weather and returned to the Everglades sunshine, and Stavanger, who will now be counting his oily pocket money at home in his Norwegian port.
Cory remained top swot and school X Factor winner, young Foden’s emulated their great grandfather’s achievement of 1910 and Black Dyke returned to the top of the European Baccalaureate.
More exams than ever it seemed – from the twin Euro tess in Rotterdam and the various National Curriculum papers, to the British Open and the whole range of subjects set by regional governors and local boards.
Class sizes remain at 20, but there are a few bands knocking on the door for entry – even if fees for school trips are set to rise again thanks to the cruel government education minister...
In alphabetical order then, and with a range of marks that equate as follows:
A - Excellent
B+ Very Good
B Above Expectations
B - Met Expectations
C+ Below Expectations but improving
C Below Expectations and no real improvement made
C - Disappointing
D In need of extra tuition
Overall Mark: B
Class Position at end of 2012: 18th (- 4)
Regional Championships: 5th (Wales)
Grand Shield: 2nd
British Open: 13th
National Finals: 11th
Pre-qualified for the National Finals and came 4th at the Welsh Area under Gwyn Evans.
Gained British Open qualification from the number 1 draw at Blackpool and drew number 1 again at Symphony Hall. Came 13th at All England Masters in Kettering, but gave solid accounts at both the British Open and National Finals.
The Welsh speaking pupil seemed to be finding life tough at the beginning of the year trying to live up to expectations following their startling 2011 exam results at the 4BR school.
Had a bit of trouble with the ‘Devil’ and with their ‘Comedy’ routines, but found their form in making sure only one pupil stood taller on ‘Shoulders of Giants’ at the British Open entrance exam after having first glance of the question.
They also did a sterling job with their Greek and French homework to end the year pleasing their hard working parents back home in the heart of Druidland.
Overall Mark: A
Class Position at end of 2011: 3rd (- 1)
Regional Championships: 1st (Yorkshire)
Whit Friday: 1st (Saddleworth)
European Championship: 1st
English National: 1st
British Open: 2nd
National Finals: 9th
Victories at the Yorkshire Championship – their first since 2008, was followed by winning over £7,500 on the Whit Friday circuit.
The European title was the first since 2005 – and their second under Dr Nicholas Childs, whilst they retained the English National title by winning both sections of the contest for the second year in a row.
Came runner up for a second successive year at the British Open but posted their lowest National Finals finish for 50 years.
Young Master Dyke was heading for a place on the history making honours board up until the end of the Summer holidays, after crushing their classroom rivals on their knowledge of Beelzebub in Bradford, the Book of Revelations and Shakespeare in Preston and the afterlife in Rotterdam.
With pocket money to blow after their Whit Friday jaunt things seemed to be on record breaking course – but they just didn’t quite electrify with their Greek exam at Birmingham and the invigilators thought they sounded like the policeman out of ‘Allo ‘Allo at London with their cod French accent.
A fine year nonetheless, although the parents will still demand that their precocious talent be top of the class in 2013.
Brass Band Schoonhoven
Overall Mark: A-
Class Position at end of 2012: (+ 7)
2002: No ranking
2001: No ranking
Flemish Open: 1st
European Championship: 3rd
Euro Brass: 1st
Dutch Championship: 1st
Started 2012 with a commanding victory at the Flemish Open under MD Erik Jannsen, before claiming their best ever finish at the European Championships in coming 3rd. That result included 99 points for their own choice rendition of ‘Audivi Media Nocte’.
Retained the Euro Brass title in Drachten before rounding off their season by winning the Dutch National title for a third consecutive year to claim their place at the European Championship in Oslo in 2013.
Just four years ago, young Schoonhoven was kicking his heels in the playground with the multi-lingual miscreants and mischief makers in polderland until the parents took hold of their sibling and got them to do their homework seriously – very seriously.
Now they are the leader of the Dutch gang at home, and as was shown at the European Baccalaureate in Rotterdam, they can also wow the examiners with their persuasive Latin nomenclatures too.
They also scored a domestic National hat trick of the type their football mad cousin Robin Van Persie would have been proud to round off the year.
Brighouse & Rastrick
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2012: 4th (+ 1)
Regional Championships: 2nd (Yorkshire)
Whit Friday: 2nd (Saddleworth)
British Open: 5th
National Finals: 2nd
Brass in Concert: 7th
Failed to retain either the Yorkshire Regional title or their National title - although they came runner-up to two outstanding winning performances.
Won over £5,000 at Whit Friday under the baton of Ian Porthouse but did not compete at the English National Championship. Came 5th for a second successive year at the British Open, but ended the year with their lowest ever finish at Brass in Concert off the number 1 draw.
A year when the chance to put the West Riding lad’s name on the school’s hat trick honours board – not once but twice, was lost – although it wasn’t for the want of trying. Even their pocket money boosting pub crawl and their X Factor audition for the end of year school play were obtained through the virtues of hard graft rather than inspiration.
Their mercurial Australian professor tutored them in a very individual interpretation of the benefits of Devil worship at Bradford and returned to provide an equally intriguing take on a Greek myth at Birmingham too.
Unfortunately, their almost word perfect French exam in London came up against a rival who had been tutored by Charles Aznavour.
Carlton Main Frickley
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2012: 10th (- 1)
Butlins Mineworkers: 8th
Regional Championships: 4th (Yorkshire)
British Open: 12th
Brass in Concert: 6th
The return to the Butlins Mineworkers Championship saw their lowest finish ever at the contest, whilst they narrowly failed to make it three London qualifications in a row at Bradford.
Michael Fowles led them to 4th place at the Masters, before Philip McCann returned to take the baton at the British Open. Paul Andrews conducted at Brass in Concert, where they posted their best finish since 2001.
An odd old year for the hard grafting lad from a famous, if slightly impoverished mining family.
Never quite got warmed up at the windswept mining exam in Skegness, although they showed they had a keen appreciation of all things ‘Devilish’ on their own doorstep in Bradford. The comedy routine at Kettering never quite gained the laughs it needed in the examiners box and the appreciation of Greek mythology was a little circumspect at Birmingham too.
To their credit they tried something a bit more flamboyant than usual at the end of term revue to hold their place in the top ten seats in class and enable mum and dad to keep up appearances against the rich parents from the Yorkshire hoi polloi.
Overall Mark: B+
Class Position at end of 2012: 9th (+ 7)
Regional Championships: 1st (Scotland)
West Lothian Challenge: 1st
European Championship: 6th
Land O Burns: 1st
British Open: 7th
National Finals: 6th
Brass in Concert: 9th
Scottish Open: 1st
One of the busiest contesting bands of 2012, Co-operative Funeralcare ended the year with four domestic victories thanks to the conducting skills of Dr Nicholas Childs, Allan Ramsay and Paul Lovatt-Cooper.
They posted their best finish at the Europeans since 2007 under Allan Withington, as well as under Allan Ramsay at the British Open and Nationals Finals since 2006 and 2000 respectively. Ended the year by winning a fourth Scottish Open title to move up seven places in the rankings.
After a few years of lazing about happy with mediocre exam results to show their deathly serious Scottish parents, young Co-op finally started to knuckle down to hard graft.
The results will have pleased Ma and Pa too – especially as they can now boast from behind the black draped counter of their local shop for local people, that their lad knows how to dish out a thumping to any domestic rivals – as was shown in top of the class exam papers each time they came home.
They enjoyed their European away day trip to Holland and showed a classy linguistic appreciation of Greek and French mythology too, even if they rather overdosed on the blue smarties at the end of term revue in Gateshead.
Overall Mark: A-
Class Position at end of 2012: 1st (No change)
Regional Championships: 1st (Wales)
European Championships: 5th
British Open: 3rd
National Finals: 3rd
Brass in Concert: 1st
Retained the Welsh Regional title– a record 10th victory under Dr Robert Childs, to book their place once again at the European Championship, before coming 5th in Rotterdam on his final contest appearance with the band.
Philip Harper led them to successive podium finishes in defence of their British Open title and at the National Finals, and gained their first major success under his baton at the Brass in Concert Championship to regain their world number 1 ranking for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year.
There were rumours flying around the sixth form common room that the Welsh powerhouse was in danger of being replaced as school bully after the news broke that their parents had decided to seek new employment in Yorkshire.
A tearful final Baccalaureate exam paper tugged at a few heartstrings, but any sense of weakness was soon dispelled as the new head of the Cory household soon got his size 12 feet under the table.
Come the end of year X Factor show and the main lead had secured star billing once again – thanks to a crafty bit of previously unseen high class song and dance polish.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2012: 12th (-1)
Norwegian Nationals: 1st
European Championship: 4th
Retained the Norwegian National title by winning both sections of the two legged event under the baton of Professor David King to book their place at the European Championship in Oslo in 2013.
Came 4th at the European in Rotterdam and did not defend the Grenland title. Conducted by Reid Gilje they were beaten into second place in defence of the Siddis title by Stavanger.
May seem a bit harsh on the well to do Norwegian sprite, but the parents back home in the fjords may just be a little disappointed that their lad didn’t quite do a bit better at the 4BR school this year.
It started so well with a brilliantly inventive individual exam paper on the twin musical icons of Bach and the Brekker Brothers and 16th century Belgian renaissance artists, but the European Baccalaureate saw them flunk a few multiple choice questions on Dutch afterlife and ‘Ancient’ history.
Even their usual slick end of year revue show came a little unstuck too, to leave room for improvement next term.
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2012: 5th (+ 1)
Regional Championships: 2nd (North West)
Whit Friday: 2nd (Tameside)
English National: 4th
British Open: 10th
National Finals: 5th
Brass in Concert: 4th
Pre-qualified for the Nationals, they came runner up at the North West Area for the fourth consecutive year under Ian Porthouse, who also took them at the English Nationals.
Picked up over £5,000 at Whit Friday under Garry Cutt (who later became their new MD), whilst Russell Gray led them at the Open and London, before Reid Glje took the baton for Brass in Concert.
With the parents enjoying their 75th wedding anniversary, young Fairey could have been forgiven for not giving his undivided attention to contest exam studies.
However, they came frustratingly close to topping the local exam board for the first time since 2001 on their knowledge of the Devil, and put in solid Latin and Shakespeare papers at Preston. Needed to have done a bit more Greek homework though, but their appreciation of all things garlic in London was persuasive, whilst they showed a decent grasp of musical geography for their end of term entertainment piece.
A solid if rather unspectacular series of exam papers may well persuade mother and father to forgo their government pensioner heating allowance payment and invest it in a few extra private lessons following the departure of their Scottish music tutor.
Overall Mark: A
Class Position at end of 2012: 2nd (+ 1)
Regional Championships: 3rd (North West)
Whit Friday: 1st (Tameside)
English National: 3rd
British Open: 1st
National Finals: 1st
Failed to retain their North West Regional title when going for their seventh successive victory, but won over £7,000 at Whit Friday.
Missed out on European qualification at Preston, but won the British Open and National titles for the first time since 2008 and 1999 respectively to claim a first historic ‘Double’ since 1910.
Mr and Mrs Foden’s complete faith in their Norwegian based private music tutor finally paid off in spectacular fashion, as their offspring emulated their great, great Grandfather’s achievement of having his name etched upon the ‘Double Winner’ honours board in the main school hall.
To be fair, there was the odd grimace along the way – with their Area essay on the occult not exactly full of hellish fire and brimstone, and their delicate appreciation of Shakespeare and Rococo musical architecture a bit awry amid the concrete brutalism of Preston bus station.
That was all forgotten though by the time the champagne bottles had been empted after a thrilling bit of Greek tragedy and an understanding of French melancholy that would have made even Jean Paul Sartre smile.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2012: 8th (- 1)
Regional Championships: 5th (Yorkshire)
British Open: 4th
Brass in Concert: 5th
Failed to qualify for the National Finals for a fourth consecutive year at the Yorkshire Area and only made a few appearances at Whit Friday.
Under the direction of Garry Cutt they posted their best result since 2009 at the British Open, but they slumped to fifth place for a second successive year at Brass in Concert – to equal their lowest ever placing at the contest.
The strained domestic surroundings of the Grimethorpe two up two down meant that the talented, if occasionally wayward Yorkshire tyke didn’t enjoy the best of exam years.
The Devil made mischievous work of idle hands at Bradford, and although they showed a cultured approach to their Greek homework, their decision not to use the dulcet tones of their former music master in introducing their end of term music hall act rather backfired.
The news that the rather fickle parents have been running up household debts that led to an appeal for help from the local charity board to stop their lad being sent to the workhouse may not endear young Grimethorpe Minor to his peers when he returns to school either.
Hepworth (Cookson Homes)
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2012: 17th (+ 2)
Regional Championships: 10th (Yorkshire)
Whit Friday: 4th (Saddleworth)
Grand Shield: 1st
English National: 5th
British Open: 11th
Posted their lowest top section result at the Yorkshire Area since 2003, but added a hefty amount of prize money to the coffers at Whit Friday.
Won the Grand Shield under Russell Gray for the second time in their history to make an immediate return to the British Open, and maintained their solid record at the English National by coming fifth for the second year in succession. Ended the contest year by coming 11th at the British Open.
Young Hepworth is showing signs of recovery after a couple of dodgy years making calls to the school nurse for help with his relegation nightmares.
Showed a startling naivety of the Devil at Bradford, but gained new found confidence by picking up extra pocket money around the Whit Friday pubs. Was a revelation on the day trip to Blackpool – delivering a fizzgoggingly good exam paper on his appreciation of ‘Giants’ and gave a decent account of Greek tragedy in with the big boys at Birmingham too.
Although still sitting close to the exit door – the hard working parents should be confident that their young charge could well make further progress towards the middle ranked benches of the class in 2013.
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2012: 6th (+ 2)
Regional Championships: 1st (North West)
Whit Friday: 3rd (Tameside)
English National: 2nd
British Open: 6th
National Finals: 10th
Brass in Concert: 2nd
Won the North West Regional title for the first time since 2005 and gained qualification for the 2013 European Championships in Oslo by coming runner up at the English National – both under Michael Bach.
Leigh Baker directed at Whit Friday, before the Swiss conductor returned to lead them to 6th and 10th at the Open and Nationals respectively. Richard Evans took over the reins for the defence of the Brass in Concert title.
The one 4BR school kid who has to have a regular musical Ritalin injection before they sit any exam: The young tearaway provided further evidence of his undoubted talent – and rather skittish concentration during the year.
You wondered whether or not an exorcism was needed after their wicked appreciation of the Devil’s work at the Area exam, whilst they also showed a colourful command of Latin verbs and Shakespearian drama on their own doorstep in Preston.
Their mind went wandering though on the Greek and French papers when a top mark was perhaps within their grasp, whilst their favourite old uncle returned once more to stick two fingers up to the PC Brigade at the end of term revue.
Overall Mark: C-
Class Position at end of 2012: 13th (- 3)
Norwegian National: 2nd
European Championship: 7th
Runner–up at the Norwegian National Championship for the second successive year under the baton of Peter Sebastian Szilvay, who led the band in the defence of the European title where they came 7th overall.
Did not compete at the domestic Grenland Festival or the Siddis Entertainment contest - travelling to compete and win the ill fated International Brass Band Contest in Leuven in Belgium under Martin Winter.
The parents of young Manger were left to wonder if their lad had upset the Nordic Gods this year, after their precociously talented sibling seemed to do everything right, but still got everything wrong come exam time.
Came up with a thrilling set of multiple choice answers on Bach meets Brekker at the annual Viking exam board, only to find it didn’t tickle the fancy of the invigilators, whilst their breathtaking exploration of the fields of Dutch Elysium and Latin conjugation in Rotterdam plunged deeper down the results table than Elizabeth Taylor’s cleavage in Cleopatra.
To top it all they then invested time and money on a time share deal in Belgium that left them out of pocket and out of luck too. A smashed shaving mirror and dead black cat were subsequently found in their school satchel.
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2012: 14th (+ 15)
2006: No ranking
2005: No ranking
2003: No ranking
2002: No ranking
2001: No ranking
European Championships: 2nd
Belgian National Championship: 5th
Led by Ivan Meylemans the band claimed second place at the European Championships – coming 5th & 2nd in the twin disciplines of set work and own choice.
Came runner up to Manger at the IBBC Contest, but ended the year only managing 5th place as they sought a hat trick of Belgian National titles in Leuven.
The parents of ‘Tin-Tin’ Limburgse were as proud as punch as the school newcomer was heading for a possible B+ mark from the headmaster, with what looked like the formality of their annual top of the class domestic exam board to come.
A sublime bit of ‘Old Blues’ answer work at the European Baccalaureate saw their lad rub shoulders with the Alpha students in the schoolyard, whilst they even emerged in credit from losing a wad of Euros after they added a touch of popular Latin storytelling at a badly supported exam taken at the Belgian School for Scoundrels.
Perhaps the experience scarred the poor lad, as on their return to the same venue they came down with a dose of ME, lost their ‘Energy’ and could only whisper a few Latin verbs to end the year on a bit of a downer.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2012: 16th (- 4)
Regional Championships: 3rd (Yorkshire)
Whit Friday: 5th (Saddleworth)
British Open: 17th
Dr Martin Contest: 2nd
National Finals: 16th
Returned to the Albert Hall for a fifth consecutive year after claiming their third podium finish in four attempts at the Yorkshire Area under David Roberts, and boosted their income with a decent Whit Friday return and second place at the Doctor Martin contest.
However, 17th place at the British Open meant relegation to the Grand Shield and 16th place at the Nationals was also their worst result at the Albert Hall.
Young Rothwell seemingly continues to move inexorably towards the school exit door, despite showing their remarkable ability to produce a cracking exam paper against local lads on their home patch.
The extra pocket money collecting a few empties around Saddleworth came in handy, and they could count themselves unlucky that their multiple choice selection box in the North East came so soon after their they produced a pretty miserable bit of Greek tragedy at the Open exam: An equally miserable weekend in Blackpool now awaits in May.
Their French pronunciation wasn’t much better amid the posh London surroundings either to round off a year in which the parents started off smiling but were eventually wearing a grimace frown of rictus by its close.
Overall Mark: B
Class Position at end of 2012: 11th (+ 11)
2002: No ranking
2001: No ranking
Butlins Mineworkers: 10th:
Welsh Open: 2nd
Regional Championship: 2nd (Wales)
Grand Shield: 6th
National Finals: 4th
10th place at Butlins was followed by withdrawal at Yeovil at the beginning of the year, but two second places finishes under Philip Harper at the Welsh Open and the Welsh Area contest followed.
Failed to make an immediate return to the British Open at the Grand Shield, but produced their best ever result at the National Finals under the direction of Steve Sykes – gaining an automatic qualification spot for the Albert Hall in 2013.
After two years when the non drinking parents had banged on the school door demanding that their lad be let in, it looked as if young ‘Tong’ was making a complete ‘horlicks’ of his chances, after finding a sailor’s life not his liking at the port of Skegness and going AWOL in Yeovil.
A quick sized 12 parental kick up the backside brought a change of attitude though – and a fine Welsh song and dance routine was followed by a cracking bit of Devil worship in Swansea.
Didn’t quite stand high enough on rivals shoulders at Blackpool, but certainly produced the best bit of National Welsh/French entante-cordiale since Windsor Davies and the lads tried out their best lingua franca in the film ‘Grand Slam’ to be welcomed into the 4BR sixth form common room at last.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2012: 7th ( - 3)
Welsh Open: 1st
Regional Championships: 3rd (Wales)
All England Masters: 1st
British Open: 15th
National Finals: 13th
Brass in Concert: 3rd
Made it a hat trick of Welsh Open victories, but could only manage a second successive third place finish at the Welsh Area. Retained their All England International Masters title and won at Wychavon for the third time on four years – all under Ian Porthouse.
Lowest placed finish at British Open since returning in 2010 and at London since 2009, although they ended the year with a second successive podium finish at Brass in Concert.
Not quite the end of year report the hard pressed ‘Morning Star’ reading parents of young Aneurin Tredegar envisaged at the beginning of the school term for sure.
Dusted off their slick party pieces and overcame a bit of last minute Devil illness to qualify for another trip up to the smoke to start 2012, whilst they really enjoyed their International Brigade ‘Comedy’ exam paper to retain their Masters status.
However, their ancient Greek test was almost as tragic as the Hellenic economy and they also got a bit Gallic tongue tied at London – although the accent sounded authentic. They saved their blushes though with fine party piece at the less testing Wychavon exam board and the main end of term entertainment revue.
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2012: 20th (+ 1)
Butlins Mineworkers: 2nd
Regional Championships: 3rd (Midlands)
English National: 7th
British Open: 8th
Brass in Concert: 8th
Second successive podium finish at Butlins was followed by the failure to qualify for the National Finals for the first time since 2009 in pursuit of a hat trick of Midland Area titles.
Their lowest finish since 2006 at the Masters was followed by 7th place on their English National debut, a second successive 8th place at the Open and 8th on their welcome return to Brass in Concert for the first time since 2000.
A solid season of hard graft under their wizardly music tutor saw young GUS return to the 4BR sixth form after a year mooching around with the kids in the woodwork class.
A fine bit of nautical map reading and solid entertainment answers started things off well in Skegness, even though their essay on the Devil didn’t quite have enough hellish intent to make it a local exam board hat trick of wins. Things did look a bit grim after their comedy routine on their own doorstep didn’t raise much of a laugh though.
However, a fine bit of Shakespeare and a 15 minute ‘Make Over’ revitalised them in Preston and a classy essay on Greek tragedy and an enjoyable look at the postcards from their Summer holiday trip of the family farm in Africa at the end of term revue ended a decent year on a high.
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2012: 19th (- 1)
Regional Championships: 2nd (Scotland)
Grand Shield: 4th
West Lothian: 3rd
Land O Burns: 3rd
National Finals: 7th
Brass in Concert: 10th
Unable to retain the Scottish Championship and failed to qualify for the British Open at their second attempt at the Grand Shield. Could only manage podium finishes at both the Land O Burns and West Lothian contests.
Erik Janssen conducted as they claimed their best National Finals result since 1990 and British Composer Award winner Simon Dobson led them again in another inventive Brass in Concert programme.
Master Whitburn’s life expectancy at the 4BR school may have the same healthy look about it as the deep fried Mars bar and Chiken Tikka pizza double dip delight from their parent’s local West Lothian chip shop it seems – but there was the odd glimmer of ‘five a day’ dietary hope during the year.
Local exam board answers were a disappointment – with just the dance with the Devil unclogging the sluggish fatty deposits in the contesting veins, whilst they certainly risked a heart attack with their all out funky rave approach at the end of term revue.
They couldn’t quite stand tall enough on rival’s shoulders at the British Open entrance exam although they showed remarkable elegance in their Dutch led French pronunciation when sitting the London test paper.