*
banner

The plastic revolution
The right performance key for the future?

4BR looks at how the Warwick Music Group's recyclable plastic instruments could help secure the future of the musical brass band planet through technology and fun...

Warwick
The plastic revolution started with the pBone

At a time when the world is worrying about the detrimental effects of our dependence on plastic, one company is bucking the trend.

So much so that earlier this year Warwick Music Group (WMG) was presented with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in recognition of its pioneering development of ABS recyclable plastic ‘brass’ instruments - led by the incredible success story of the pBone trombone.

Quarter of a million and more...

That celebration evening in Birmingham though was much more than a collective ‘smack on the back’ for a small independent company set up in 2010 that has gone on to sell well over a 250,000 pBone trombones all over the world and helps to contribute to the £4.5 billion that the music industry boosts the UK economy by each year.

It was also about celebrating the pioneering ambition that drives CEO Steve Greenall (below) and his team near Tamworth in the West Midlands to enable youngsters to be given the opportunity to enjoy playing music on affordable instruments.

And it is that ethos of inclusion and accessibility that underpins the production of every instrument that bears the WMG name.

Greenall
WMG CEO Steve Greenall

“We believe in the way in which music can transform lives, support educational achievement and bring people together,” he told 4BR.

“By creating high quality, durable and affordable wind and brass instruments the company is making the joy of music both accessible and fun.”

By creating high quality, durable and affordable wind and brass instruments the company is making the joy of music both accessible and fun.

Life changhing 

Steve added: “Fundamentally, every young person should have the opportunity to participate in and enjoy music making. 

It’s proven that it improves educational attainment and studies worldwide show that playing music in a group, ensemble or orchestra helps develop team participation and leadership.

There are life-changing benefits to making music.”

Warwick
The first step comes with the pBuzz for beginners

And those life changing benefits can now come with the pBone mini, a lighter version of its bigger sibling aimed at beginners as well as the pTrumpet, the world’s first all-plastic trumpet.

Then there is the pBuzz, aimed as the introductory ‘first-step’ to brass playing,; the pCornet, the world’s first fully plastic cornet, and most recently, the pTrumpet hyTech, which offers students a ‘hybrid’ instrument that combines both plastic and metal components.

Cut to the marrow

Getting youngsters to enjoy playing a plastic trombone, trumpet, cornet and pBuzz may sound easy (and what’s not to enjoy) but over the last decade or more it has been played out against an imposing backdrop of huge austerity cuts to peripatetic music provision in schools that have cut to the marrow.  

It's therefore proven to be a challenging time for a company to try and reinvent a new approach to match inspiration to participation - making instrumental teaching affordable as well as fun. 

Increasingly seen as a ‘choice’ activity that had to be paid for directly by parents and families, the results of which saw as far back as 2002, the National Foundation for Youth Music reporting what it called a “frightening” fall in the number of young people learning to play brass instruments.

It's therefore proven to be a challenging time for a company to try and reinvent a new approach to match inspiration to participation - making instrumental teaching affordable as well as fun. 

That though has been the key to the plastic revolution spearheaded by Warwick Music Group.

Warwick
The pTrumpet has also made its mark...

The success of the pBone has been well reported - a great ergonomic design made out of recyclable plastic that is both durable and affordable to produce. Lightweight and brightly coloured it was marketed with a clever, intuitive appreciation of what both youngsters and teachers were crying out for. 

As one teacher once explained to 4BR. “You could literally put them in a pile on the floor in a classroom and then enjoy having fun for the next hour.  We had kids queuing up to come and play.”

Secret of success

WMG Marketing Manager Sophie Blackmore, explains the secret to that success.  “Great emphasis was placed on the design so that it was comfortable for children to use. When they found it fun, the music making becomes fun. Everything else stemmed from that.”

So much so that others tried to get in on the act (the company has successfully fought major patent infringements), but none has managed to capture the imagination or gain the long term success of the extended range of instruments now produced by the company.

Great emphasis was placed on the design so that it was comfortable for children to use. When they found it fun, the music making becomes fun. Everything else stemmed from that

Development

What followed has been the development of the mini pBone followed by the pTrumpet, pBuzz, pCornet and pTrumpet hyTech - each designed with that singular purpose in mind - making the joy of music accessible and fun.

For instance the pBuzz, a brand new instrument is all about the first fun step in brass playing for the youngest players, whilst the pBone mini, pBone, pCornet and pTrumpet offer the next step in musical development. 

The hyTtech trumpet is the type of instrument that is now being used by young players eager to increase their skill sets as they themselves grow and develop.  

Warwick
The pCornet has been a growing success

Design thinking

As Sophie explains, linking great design thinking to young player’s needs also has another long term benefit.

“Plastic is lightweight (the pCornet weighs in at just 500 grams for instance) so it encourages youngsters to play with the correct posture - not weighed down by a heavy instrument in small hands. 

Teachers have told us that this gives the player greater confidence and expression and makes the ultimate transition to traditional brass instruments so much easier.”  


Plastic gold... the hyTech trumpet is a hybrid that offers players the best of both worlds...

Responsible

However, making sure that parents in particular know that what the plastic revolution is being undertaken responsibly has also been key to the company’s ongoing success.   

“We care about making music fun and accessible, that’s what drives us to make the products we do - but we’re also serious about doing it right,” Steve Greenall says.

Recognition has come in many different forms - from that Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and becoming an Export Champion for the Midlands, to the hyTech being acclaimed as the ‘Best Teaching Tool for Intermediate Students’ at the influential NAMM Conference in California 

"We shared a blog called #seriousaboutmakingmusicfun that shows five ways we make sure the instruments that reach students, teachers, parents and children worldwide are of the highest standard – from quality control, safety testing and hygienic technology to our commitment to ethical and moral manufacture and the use of sustainable materials.

Being able to produce instruments that make music fun is a serious business – but one that we are totally committed to.”

Queen's Award

Recognition has come in many different forms - from that Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and becoming an Export Champion for the Midlands, to the hyTech being acclaimed as the ‘Best Teaching Tool for Intermediate Students’ at the influential NAMM Conference in California earlier this year – an event that attracts over 115,000 educators, teachers, professional players and administrators from across the world.

wARWICK
The Warwick Music Group was presented with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation in 2019

Long term commitment

The awards may well recognise the company’s excellence and commitment to producing instruments that are affordable and sustainable, but it has been refreshing to note that it has also been backed that up with a long term commitment to increasing links to the communities that these young players belong – from schools to local brass bands.

A raft of tuition books has been produced and the inventive approach to modern technology has seen the development of on-line resources such as ‘on-demand’ lessons, coaching and blogs, as well converting their sheet music catalogue to a digital download service.  

A raft of tuition books has been produced and the inventive approach to modern technology has seen the development of on-line resources such as ‘on-demand’ lessons, coaching and blogs, as well converting their sheet music catalogue to a digital download service.  

The company has also committed itself to supporting events such as the National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain and Bolsover Festival of Brass, which recently saw the live-streaming the event across the globe.

The world may well be worried about its dependence on plastic, but when it comes to inspiring the next generations to enjoy playing music on affordable, sustainable and recyclable instruments then Warwick Music Group is going its best to make the world a better place in more ways than one.

Iwan Fox

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    



The Marple Band - Marple and Hawk Green Bands Concert Compstall

Saturday 7 November • St Pauls Church, Compstall Rd, Compstall, Stockport, Cheshire SK6 5HU


The Marple Band - Marple Band Family Christmas Concert

Friday 18 December • Marple Conservative Club, church Lane, Marple, SK6 6AY


Contest: Butlins Mineworkers Festival

Saturday 30 January • Roman Bank, Ingoldmells, Skegness PE25 1NJ


Contest: Butlins Mineworkers Festival

Sunday 31 January • Roman Bank, Ingoldmells, Skegness PE25 1NJ


Black Dyke Band - Brighouse & Rastrick, Huddersfield Town Hall

Saturday 27 March • Corporation St, Huddersfield HD1 2TA


Amesbury Town Band

October 21 • Players and beginners of any standard are always warmly welcomed especially some more solo cornets and a spare percussionists to help out existing players. Feel free to drop in even if you just fancy a blow or want to try another instrument. After Covid!


Shipston Town Band

October 8 • We are currently looking to recruit a Bass Trombone BBb bass and EEb bass to bring the band up to strength ready for when things return to normal. We are graded section 3 in the Midlands taking part in a good range of concerts and contests,


Milton Keynes Brass

October 5 • Applications are invited for a baritone player for Milton Keynes Brass. We are a friendly 1st section band based in Milton Keynes and rehearsals take place on Tuesday evenings, 7:45pm-10:00pm, with additional rehearsals before contests.


Alwyn Green

LRAM, LTCL
Conductor, composer, arranger, adjudicator, teacher and soloist


               

 © 2020 4barsrest.com Ltd