Jeff Heaton

Bb Bass

I first started to play a brass instrument at The Salvation Army in Halifax a few months after my 7th birthday eventually joining the Young People’s Band. That will be 60 years ago this September (2020) and some of those who were there are still friends and one of them still plays at Friendly with me now. Thanks go to those who taught me and the various leaders we had at the time for their patience and forbearance as I was learning. At that time I was a trombone player and our band practice was in Halifax on a Tuesday evening so I had to travel down on the bus. I do remember at least on a couple of occasions arriving at practice with no instrument having left it on the bus. One time I borrowed an instrument for the practice only to arrive home and find mine standing at the bus stop where I had left it when I set off. At 16 I moved into the senior band and, for a while sat next to my Dad. Eventually I decided to learn a valve instrument and moved round the band a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades (and master of none). I was moved onto the BBb bass tuba when our existing player moved away and our band had to lead Halifax Gala Procession. Our Bandmaster looked round the band and said “You’re big enough to carry it” and that was it. I have got to say it’s a long way from North Bridge Leisure Centre, backwards and forwards through the town centre and then on to Manor Heath.
After a break from playing it was the 1999 and I was asked by a friend who played at Friendly if I fancied giving then a hand for a Millennium Concert as they were short of a BBb player. I did point out that I hadn’t played for a couple of years (actually 15 years) but would give it a go. I went to a few practices, played the concert and, 21 years later, am still there.
I do help out with a few other bands from time to time and generally enjoy my playing. I always say with most things I do I will continue as long as I’m enjoying it and that I’m contributing. I will know the first but I may need someone else to tell me if it’s time to retire.
I must admit the BBb does get a bit heavy to drag about sometimes but I’ve had some good times and made some great and long-lasting friendships through my banding and I’m looking forward to the next 21 years!