Brass Day

On 24th October Astley Youth Band delivered 7 online sessions open to all, free of charge! On this page you will find all the details you need including:

  • Details about each session

  • Registration form

  • How to Zoom guide

  • Safeguarding policy

  • Online Safeguarding policy and code of conduct

  • Privacy Policy

If you have any questions about the online brass day please email

Spin the Plates

Ewan Easton MBE has been a professional performer since 1983. Since May 2001 he has been Principal Tuba with the Hallé Orchestra where he continues to play an active role in the education outreach programme. Ewan is a highly committed teacher and has taught at all levels; primary, secondary and tertiary. He has run performance workshops and masterclasses at Conservatoires, Youth Orchestras and schools throughout Britain and Ireland to a diverse audience.

Ewan also works as a conductor and has conducted Wingates Band, Besses o’ th’ Barn and has been the musical director of the City of Chester Band since 2016. He also tutors with the National Youth Orchestra of GB and is heavily involved as a trustee with the National Youth Brass Band of GB.

In spring 2004, and with the backing of the Hallé, Ewan created an award-winning project called ‘Hallé4brass’ at Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institute, offering those students the opportunity to learn to read and play music as well as perform alongside some of Britain’s top classical musicians. This is an ongoing project which Ewan is extremely passionate about and has had excellent results since its inception.

Ewan will be leading these 'Spin the Plates' sessions which will explore all the different elements of brass playing and give you some helpful technique tips to improve. 10-11am will be for adult brass players. 11.30-12.30pm is for aged 18 and under, ideally of grade 3+ standard.

Top Tips for Challenging Times

Ewan Easton will also be delivering a session for all musicians and parents of musicians. Ewan will be discussing strategies for staying motivated. At the moment all musicians are finding it hard to practise when there aren't rehearsals or performances looming.. Ewan will be talking through some ways to help with this and give some advice on how to stay on track.

Brass Builders

Arlene MacFarlane studied Trombone at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she graduated with a BMus Degree in Performance with Honours of the First Class, obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance with Distinction, and holds a Master of Music with Distinction.

Following on from her studies, Arlene was appointed as Sub – Principal Trombone of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales where she spent four years. Arlene's other professional work includes regular appearances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Opera, RTE Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

With a passion for music education, Arlene relocated back to Scotland and has held teaching posts for all of the Ayrshire Music Services and currently works for East Ayrshire Music Service. She is also Course Director for the West of Scotland Schools Orchestra Trust, Musical Director for the Dynamica Brass Academy, Lower Brass Instructor with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain and part of the Musicianship team for the Benedetti Foundation.

Arlene will be leading a session for beginner - grade 3 ability brass students. The session will be jam packed with all things musical! It will be a really fun and exciting session aimed at children under the age of 12.

Sweet Soul Music

Jon Stokes graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2005 and since then has gone on to perform with musical giants such as Quincy Jones and Tony Bennett as well as delivering workshops and masterclasses across the UK.

Jon will be leading a session on soul, funk and jazz music. There will be lots of practical elements to the session so make sure you have your instruments. This session is for under 18's of grade 3+ ability.

Karaoke Banding

Our AYB tutors, Toby Hobson, Helen Minshall, Sam Raisbeck and Neil Raisbeck will be leading a playalong session. The music will be sent out prior to the day. During the session everyone will be muted, and you will hear tracks to playalong with. It's a great way of feeling like you're playing in an ensemble whilst we can't physically be together at the moment.

Practice makes Permanent

Helen Williams began playing the cornet at the age of ten. She joined The Marple Band in 1986 as Principal Cornet, performing with the band in many concert and contest successes, culminating in Helen becoming the first and (so far) only female principal cornet to win the British Open Brass Band Championship title in its 149 year history.

Glyn Williams was born in Aberystwyth where he was introduced to music by his Uncle and enjoyed playing euphonium with Towyn Silver Royal Oakley and Menai Bridge, all local bands.

Glyn and Helen both played for Foden's Band. Glyn from 1995-2015 and Helen 1999-2015. They enjoyed many contest successes and concert performances. 2012 was the pinnacle of this contesting success when Foden’s won both the Open and National Championships.

After a combined service to Foden's Band of over 35 years, Glyn and Helen took the heart wrenching decision to move to South Wales and to join the Cory Band in the Summer of 2015. This began a whole new chapter in their brass banding careers. They went on to become part of the Grand Slam band winning the European, British Open, National and Brass in Concert titles in 2016. Helen was also awarded the Best Instrumentalist Prize at the Open & the Nationals, Best Flugel Horn at Brass in Concert and earned the accolade of Player of the Year from her peers at Cory. Topping off an incredible year of personal achievements Helen was also named as Player of the Year by Of course, history does have a way of repeating itself and in 2019 Cory again achieved the Grand Slam, but this time also added the title of Brass Pass UK Band of the Year to their crown.

Helen works at the Brass Band Player’s Registry which covers all competing English & Welsh bands and also writes for Brass Band World Magazine. Helen is proud to be a regular tutor at the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, the National Youth Brass Band of Wales, and to have also taught on National Youth Brass Band of Scotland and National Youth Brass Band of Switzerland (where she was guest soloist in 2019) courses.

Glyn is highly regarded as one of the Brass Band world’s up and coming young Musical Directors holding the position of Professional Conductor at the Marsden Silver Prize Band from 2004 to 2015 with great contest success, and more recently working with Lydbrook and Aldbourne Bands since his move South.

Glyn sells top of the range brass instruments and has been instrumental in developing the Sterling range. In recent times he has discovered a passion for house renovation and has worked on a couple of total transformations, both project managing and not being afraid to get his hands dirty!

Glyn and Helen will be giving a session on how to stay inspired during this difficult time. They will be sharing some of their experiences of playing for the world no.1 brass band. The session will be open to adult brass players.

Sign up for our Online Brass Day has now closed. For all further enquiries (and links to the recordings), please email

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