At this time the West Riding Education Authority had a large staff of peripatetic teachers – many of whom had previously played in major orchestras. They had no less than three horn players on the staff (the late Wilfred Heaton, the late Don Corkish and Peter Chadwick). The school to which I went (Salts Grammar School) made enquiries and, from the Autumn of 1963, Wilfred Heaton (best known now for his brass band compositions) called in every Thursday to give me lessons. Eventually I began to play in the Keighley Orchestra and also the Yorkshire Youth Orchestra.
In 1966 I went to the Northern School of Music in Manchester where I was taught the horn by Julian Baker and Kenneth Monks. I left in 1970 and spent two spells as a peripatetic teacher – for a short time in Salford and then for four years in Rochdale. I also built up a freelance playing career: extra and deputy work with the Halle, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Northern Symphony and Northern Radio Orchestras, Scottish Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish National Orchestra etc. I was also a founder-member of the Northern Chamber Orchestra and played for the Manchester Camerata plus choral societies and touring productions. In 1978 I joined Opera North in Leeds as 4th horn and remained there for 26 years – leaving in 2004.
Since then I have freelanced, mainly locally, and worked as a peripatetic teacher once more. Now semi-retired, I started to edit ‘The Horn Player’ in 2004 having been a member of the BHS committee for many years. During that time I organised horn days in Leeds, Huddersfield, York and Ripon.
The future? I would like to be an ambassador for the horn in my own home-area; it is indicative of the state of affairs countrywide that I have been able to earn quite a large amount of income from playing with several local amateur orchestras when they cannot field four horns for their concerts. Imagine! An orchestra is doing, say, Brahms 4 and they cannot find four players without paying a ‘ringer’. OK very nice for me; but not good for horn playing!