Friday January 29, 2021

My First Musical Instrument
What was yours?


08/01/21 - "I wonder how many musicians on site can remember their first instrument whether it being sax/trumpet/bass etc", writes Peter Eddowes.  This is a picture of my first drum kit which was funded by my parents in the mid 1950s. It cost the princely sum of £20, and my first gig in order to try and pay it back was in Fenton Stoke-on-Trent playing for a Ballroom Dancing Class with a pianist. He was a School Teacher who was very encouraging in Music and at the end of the night gave me 5shillings (25p in today's money), which was duly given to my parents to start the pay back. It was later in the 1960s that I was able to by a modern kit which was a Premier Black Pearl".

09/01/21 - My first instrument - Jon Critchley


11/01/21 -

My first instrument was a violin, which I learnt to play with lessons at school. This was really down to my granddad, who was a violinist, and had a dance band in London in the ‘20s. However, when I was 16 i bought a trumpet from Phil Parker’s brass instrument studios in London, it cost £5, and that included a 30 minute lesson on how to produce a note on the instrument. I can still produce that note ...........

I didn’t have it very long, as soon as I started earning, I bought a B&H ‘Emporer’ which I had until our 25th wedding anniversary in 1991 when June bought me the Bach Strad which I still use.

Photo of members of our first band taken about 1958

L-R :-  Rod Brown clarinet: Brian Craig trumpet (now banjo): Brian's (then) girl friend : My brother John trombone : Peter Curtis banjo (now clt/sax) : Richard Knock trumpet

It's from an ancient colour side! sorry it's so small! but I'm sure that was trumpet No 1 I'm holding! All the band members went on to spend their lifetimes playing jazz, mostly in the Southeast, Peter in particular has played in a number of well known bands around the country as well as his own New Orleans Echoes, based in Tunbridge Wells. I met up and played with surviving members at my brother's funeral 6 years ago' If this is of use, please use it, if not, well, it's interesting anyway, and just looking it up stirs some memories for me!

Richard Knock


13/01/21 -

My dad played jazz/boogie piano and we had an egg-timer-shaped genuine African drum (carved wood with animal skin) which I played along with him. I placed a silver biscuit jar lid on the skin and, with a soft hair brush, kept up a four- beat rhythm by hitting the lid. I played the snare beats with a thick knitting needle.

In 1965 I bought a drum kit advertised on the college notice board for £20. I don't think I ever played it at home (semi-detached house with a grumpy old neighbour) so it's first outing was a session organised by Bob (Arnold) Webster on 1st March 1968 with friends of his - Bernard Bibby, Neil Astbury and a trumpet player whose name I have never remembered who was about to emigrate to Australia.

It was a gold Rogers kit (bass drum, snare drum, floor tom and tom) and included a throne, bass pedal, hi-hat, cymbal stands and two cymbals. Other than changing bits of hardware over the years and buying a couple of Rogers snares
(one for the kit, one for parades) I played that kit and the same two cymbals from its first outing until my last gig in the UK with New Orleans Express in January 2000. I never used a hi-hat in all that time.

I didn't play the kit after that although it came with me to Spain in 2000 and back to the UK in 2010 where it languished in my mum's garage. Apart from the two cymbals and snare drums, I didn't bring any of it with me when I moved to France in 2011. I gave away bits & pieces, discarded others and, when we sold the bungalow three years ago, left the bass drum and toms, plus my overly large ancient American parade drum, in the garage.

Graham Martindale


25/01/21 -

Joining in with the "first instrument” feature which is an original good idea. About £6.00 for the guitar -  and includes my first double bass from the same music shop.  I was a customer of Don Strike's in the 1950s. I bought my first Guitar, a Roundhole Martin Colletti. It took me 6 weeks on a string of Saturdays to persuade Don to sell it, I think it was a rite of passage to prove I really wanted it! I still have it as a memento. Later in about 1961 I bought a double bass. Again a first instrument which I tried out and at least I knew the notes. While fiddling around, an accordionist playing in the corner said. "Join in son".  After a few minutes he said "right come back in 6 weeks I will have some work for you". An audition passed before I could play! The bass had previously belonged to Al Stewart, and was the only one ever sold by Don. Faces like Andy Summers, Zoot Money and Roy Phillips would sometimes be in the back of the shop jamming. Great days and a special memory for us senior folk. Thank you all at Strikes .

Ken Ames


29/01/21 -

'Aged six I found a tuning whistle in Mum's 'odds and sods' bowl among old keys, coins etc.. It played two clear notes, one note when you blew and another when you sucked. I blew and sucked energetically, suddenly down it went. I thought I was dying. In Hospital they watched it for several minutes at the X ray machine, going with the flow, not stuck. Amazingly they did not yet know the full dangers of X rays. Remember shoe shop X ray machines? 

My first chromatic instrument was a Selmer 'Cadet' Trumpet. My tutor charged us £20 second hand and no free lesson! I later saw one in Charring Cross Road for £12 new! My second was, like Richard Knock's, a Boosey and Hawkes Emperor, £20 second hand(1957), which I played for 21yrs before changing to a Bach Mercedes Long Cornet (about £250 new). Now, 42yrs on, the Bach is still my favourite of eleven. My first trombone was a nameless 19th century one, interestingly pitched in C, quite short with rotary change to Bb. It's on a beam in the lounge now, still playable. '

Peter Boswell

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