Yeomen of the Month – Darren Moore
My family once took a 10 hour long car journey on a holiday, throughout which my grandad managed to hum pretty much every Louis Armstrong song he knew, constantly! He wasn’t as quiet as he thought but we didn’t mind too much.
I was sixteen years old and we were off to the French Alps for a week, which seemed far too long to go without practising the trumpet. In my bag I had packed a mouthpiece so that I could buzz on it for a little while each day – probably equally as annoying for my parents as 10 hours of humming. At this age I was really inspired to practice and play as much as possible because of my teacher Tom Rainer.
Before I had decided to focus on trumpet, I spent more time ruining the back garden by kicking footballs at the fence and hitting golf balls over it. My mum did manage to get me interested in playing music too though. She was the Head of Music at a local secondary school and got me and my brother involved with her school wind band when we were about eight years old. Secretly I think she just wanted to keep an eye on us after school on Fridays. We used to arrive with cakes in hand that we would buy on the way to school from the Women’s Institute. You can see why mum’s pupils did not mind us coming along to play.
The next step was to have individual lessons at Kent Music School and so I learnt there with Elaine Williams and then Pauline Fisher. My dad took me to my lessons every Monday night for years, driving up and down between Ashford and Maidstone. As a bit of a treat we used to listen to I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue on the way back, which happened to be presented by the inimitable Humphrey Lyttelton – another of my grandad’s favourite trumpet players. Looking back to that car journey I suppose humming Louis Armstrong was probably better than 10 hours of playing Mornington Crescent…
When I was fourteen years old, I started going for private lessons with Tom Rainer. An incredible player and teacher, Tom has always had this ability to simultaneously make you enjoy playing while also increasing your level of expectation as a player. I did not realise how lucky I was at the time to have a teacher like that as a teenager. He made me want to practice and comments and tips still keep reappearing in my mind during rehearsals and concerts now. It was thanks to Paul Beniston who put us in touch with Tom that I had these lessons. Paul coached us on youth orchestra courses. What a fantastic opportunity it was to have the London Philharmonic Orchestra principal trumpet player giving you guidance like that.
During my school years we had a very strong music department for a state school. Our Head of Music, John Hall, was so keen on jazz he managed to run award-winning groups year in, year out. Our eight-piece band got together when we were in our first and second years of school and we played every week for six years. By the time we left school we had played at the Royal Albert Hall Schools Prom, the Proms In The Park, and had won awards at the National Festival of Music for Youth. Jazzy John Hall also managed to get us a trip to play in Washington DC in a music exchange with an American high school.
In doing this jazz band I met some of my closest friends and we still get together to play for a friend’s wedding or birthday party. We had to memorise the music and take improvised solos, aspects of playing I am very grateful to have gotten used to at that age and something I have encouraged when leading Musicians’ Company outreach workshops.
Most of the workshops I have done over the past few years have been with either Matthew Lewis or Ross Learmonth. We have tried a few different types of music but more recently we have found that Blues workshops are going down very well at schools. A simple outline, backing chords by one of the Yeomen and setting the kids a challenge to improvise and write their own song has been very successful.
In doing workshops I have learnt that people learn better when they are actively taking part. We also get to discuss the benefits of setting yourself challenges as a player and we can usually draw upon current performing examples to help emphasise that point. At the moment I am playing in a production of L’Orfeo in which all the brass are playing without music.
The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner are touring the trilogy of Monteverdi operas and Vespers to celebrate his 450 anniversary year. Having to play from memory has meant I have learnt the opera much better than I would normally and I am able to enjoy the amazing spaces in which we are playing. Recently we were at La Fenice in Venice and will also be going to many exciting places including Luzern, Chicago and New York. Currently we are on a Eurostar to Paris for a performance of the Vespers.
It is the variety of teaching, giving workshops, performing, and travelling that is the reason I enjoy being a musician so much. We take part in exciting musical productions, make new friends along the way, and enjoy the company of old friends too. There is a lot of time to listen to music when sat on trains and planes so naturally I have my headphones on. What’s on the iPod? Louis Armstrong, of course.