Above: Dave with his barometer for winning the champion of champions 1974
Above: Elizabeth Band's winning quintet, l-r Dave Griffiths, Kerry Hewett, Richard Madden, Stuart Moore, John Warren
Above: Dave Griffiths aka Gloria Stitts performing Concerto de Aranjuez with Kensington and Norwood Band
Above:Elizabeth Band at the British Workingmen's Club, late 80's. L-R Geoff Meikle, Jim Dempsey, Glenn Madden, Richard Madden, Dave Griffiths, Pete Snelling, Adrienne Meikle, Mathew Madden
Above: Dave during his trombone phase!
It was sometime in 1992 (I think), I am sitting next to Sue Denman in the Enfield Band Hall. It’s the State Solo Contest and the tears are flowing freely from Sue’s eyes, not from sadness but from mirth. The source of amusement for both of us is Dave Griffiths, who is onstage in the process of inventing a new trombone technique. A technique that could most accurately be described as “Involuntary Multiphonics”, he’s playing an unintentional duet with himself. His lips have developed a split personality, sounding two tortured notes simultaneously! The more he tries to correct his schizophrenic embouchure, the more badly behaved it becomes. Dave’s level of self-control, humorously speaking, is now just about on a par with Sue (who is no slouch on the trombone herself) and me, as he chuckles his way to a slightly imperfect, perfect cadence.
David Griffiths was amongst friends that day, as he is today. We were laughing with him as he went through his epiphany-in-reverse, instead of a moment of sudden and great realisation and revelation, ie. “Trombone is the new me!” I reckon he was thinking about dusting off the cornet and returning to his former glory on the side of the band where the high notes are played.
Dave is a great bloke to have in a band, not just for his excellent playing (on cornet!), but also because he is an ideas man, a hard worker and supportive of any and all brass band activities and endeavours. He is also sociable, intelligent and possesses the seasoned judgement of a well-travelled person.
His story is well written and provides food for thought.
Geoff Meikle, 2019
NAME: Dave Griffiths
BORN: Bolton UK, 13/06/1943
EEb Tuba Shirley Band UK
EEb Soprano Shirley Band UK
BBb Cornet Tyldesley Prize Band UK, Bolton Borough UK, Shirley UK, St Albans City UK, Kensington & Norwood AUS, Elizabeth City Band AUS, Tanunda Town AUS, Enfield City AUS
Flugel Kensington & Norwood AUS,
Tenor Trombone Enfield 'B' Band
EARLY BANDING DAYS UNITED KINGDOM
I started to play Cornet when I was 10 years old, with encouragement from my father who also played Cornet. My first band I recall was the Tyldesley Prize Band, a 2nd Section UK band where I played 2nd Cornet.
I then moved to my home town band of Bolton and at 16 became Principal Cornet of Bolton Borough band, a 4th Section band. The band was successful in qualifying in the North Western Area band Championships for the London Finals in 1960 by coming 3rd out of 24 competing bands in Manchester.
I gave up brass bands shortly after, until I moved to Solihull in 1965 in the UK Midlands with my job, and joined the Shirley Band. This was a very good community band, we won many competitions in the 1st Section and were promoted to the UK Championship Section the year I emigrated to South Australia in 1972.
MY BANDING IN AUSTRALIA
Arrived in Australia September 1972 and joined the Kensington and Norwood band under Bernard Bygrave (ex-Principal Cornet of Black Dyke) conducting, then conductors Paul Cerezo and Galvin John successively. I was Associate Principal Cornet to the amazing Ron Greer on Principal Cornet.
A great embarrassment to my musical journey happened in 1974, and shaped my future musical journey for ever. I auditioned for the South Australian Concert Brass in 1974 a State band made up of players from many SA bands. The band was conducted by Squadron Leader Laurie Hicks at the Festival Theatre in 1974, and Geoffrey Brand in the Town Hall in 1975. I was Principal Cornet of the SA Brass in 1975.
In auditioning in 1974, which was in front of a member of the SA Police Band, whose name escapes me! I was asked to play an Eb Major scale. I thought for a while and asked does that start on Eb? Yes was the reply!! I can’t remember what I played, I was so highly embarrassed, but I said to myself, "you can play a bloody good cornet, but you know bugger all about music".
I immediately started theory lessons under Ashley Tobin at the Adelaide School of Music, and eventually managed to achieve a credit in 7th Grade AMEB Theory of Music.
Since that time I have won the South Australian Cornet Championship several times,
I was SA Champion of Champions in 1974 on Cornet,
I was SA Champion of Champions in 1975 on Flugel.
I won the Australian National Championship on Flugel in 1980.
One claim to fame happened in 1974. I was invited to Sydney to play in the Earn Keller Memorial Trophy sponsored by the St Mary's Band Club. This competition invited the Champion of Champions of each state to play for the Earn Keller Trophy. It was a great experience and I was the very first player to ever perform in the competition as I drew number 1. I didn't win!
I left brass bands in 1975 and started to study Trumpet with Glenn Madden and then James Dempsey.
I attained my Associate in Music performance (A Mus A) on trumpet in 1977, and a Teacher of Music (T Mus A) Trumpet, in 1981 under the auspices of the University of Adelaide. Throughout the Teaching Diploma study period, I had to seek advice and guidance on teaching techniques from several well-known brass teachers in South Australia, James Dempsey, Glenn Madden, the late, great Robert Hower and, not least of all, Bruce Raymond.
I joined the Elizabeth City Brass Band in 1985, with Glenn Madden conducting. I arranged and choreographed a concert in the Festival Theatre following the National Championships in Adelaide in 1986, to celebrate the 150th year of South Australia as a State. I left the Elizabeth City Brass Band in 1991 and after a short famous “Era” of Trombone of playing, with the Enfield 'B' band, I re-joined Kensington & Norwood.
With Kensington & Norwood we went on a trip to Malaysia in 1998 to celebrate the Centenary of the band formation, with Bruce Raymond conducting. Over the next 7-8 years I travelled a lot to the UK, including working there 1999 until 2001 and so was an irregular member of the Band. I played with St Albans City Band in the UK and went to the British Open and British National final competitions to watch the best of British bands.
My last performance with the Kensington & Norwood band was the National Championships in Adelaide in 2005 playing 3rd Cornet 'On Alderley Edge' and 'Titans Progress' in A Grade.
I was fortunate to be invited by the Tanunda Town Band in 2017 to play with them in the UK Whit Friday marching competition. We mixed with members of Black Dyke Band, and rehearsed in their band room. A great trip and successful the band coming 32nd out of 130 bands from all over Europe.
To end my playing, I joined my local Enfield Band in the 3rd Section and played for 3-4 years on 3rd Cornet until I retired from playing at the age of 76 in 2019. The following year I was awarded life membership of the SABA.
To apply some of my theoretical knowledge and experience of brass band music, I have, over the last few years, written 2 'A' Grade test pieces for Brass Band, around 16 minutes each. It is difficult to get a band capable of playing the pieces, so I can hear the real Brass Band sound rather than the organist sound from a computer simulation. Fortunately my great friends from Tanunda Town Band have agreed to record it for me so I can listen to the real brass band sounds and finalise the pieces.
Contesting I think it is essential for band members to see what musical standard they can achieve with a concentrated effort on a piece of music for a contest. This SHOULD suggest to them to aspire to the same level of achievement for concert items to maintain the standard set.
Banding and Family life. Both my wives have had no interest in Brass Bands and told me so.
Banding and Social Life Music is an international passport to making friends anywhere in the world. If you go to any band in Australia, UK, Europe and say “I play xxx brass instrument”, 9 times out of 10 you will be welcomed to sit in and have a blow, and provided with an instrument.
A classic example is the Russian Conductor trying to get the fiddles to play louder as he is blasphemes, in Russian, to no effect. He then says ahhhh and shouts out “FORTISSIMO”, problem solved with an international language – Music.
Music Theory and History. I would encourage all brass players to do some music theory. It makes music so much more understandable and enjoyable. It gives such an insight into what the early composers did and why, the development of musical styles over the ages.
I cannot thank my late father enough for introducing me to the brass band movement. I have had so much enjoyment and fun and met so many great people, made friends with plenty and met a few egotists.