For us, music has always been about inspiring and telling incredible stories. We often hear from musicians across the country speaking about how it has changed their lives, so when we heard this incredible love story, we couldn’t resist sharing it with the world!
William and Judith got in touch with us on Facebook and have been playing music together for over 50 (almost 60!) years after meeting at their local band hall back in 1964. We followed up with William and Judith to see the impact that music has had on their lives together and the ways it has helped them throughout lockdown.
William: “We are Luton kids originally and we joined the Luton junior band that the Luton band itself ran. The Luton band were eminent in those days, they were in the championships and were contesting the likes of the Royal Albert Hall and were a very good band. I joined in probably 1963 and then Judith joined in 1964.
We met each other at the door of the band room, I was turning up for rehearsal one evening and Judith was turning up for her first rehearsal.
Judith: “A friend of mine at school said you’ve got to come along to Luton junior band, so I thought sure why not? And just turned up, I was a little bit apprehensive.”
William: “So Judith arrived and said “Is this the Luton band room?” and I said “Yes it is!” - those were the historic first words we ever said to each other. We were both 15!
In fact, I’ve still got the same cornet from 1964 that I was playing when we first met. My dad gave me this when I was a little boy, it was battered, all the plating was gone and it was dented, he had it done up for me but it’s still in perfect nick. I’ve had that for around 62 years now - I think was 9 when I got it and it was old then, it’s worth nothing but is worth an awful lot to me!
I often think where my life would be had I not been brought this when I was a child!”
Since 1964 the pair have come a long way and William and Judith have led incredibly musical lives, playing all over the world in various bands, here’s what happened next...
William: “We played in Luton junior band together until 1967. Then Judith went to London to study nursing and I went to Cambridge to study natural sciences.”
Judith: “So we didn’t play together for about 3 or 4 years, because you can’t really when everyone’s on shift work. We got married in 1971, moved back to Luton and joined LSO (Luton Symphony Orchestra). I was playing trumpet then and I think you were too.”
William: “I was a science teacher and the school I worked at had a band so I helped run that band and Judith would also sit in on the band and join in. So we were playing in that concert band with the kids and that was great! We had trips abroad to Norway and Germany - It was a lovely time of our lives!
We also set up an adults band from the school band so children would still have somewhere to go after they’ve finished at school and that’s still going today, it’s called the Luton concert band and in fact many of the children I taught back in the 70s are still in it!
Then we joined one of the village bands just outside of Luton that fluctuated between 4 and 10 members but we were in that for years, 20-30 years Playing Gabrielli, Samuel Scheid as well as bits of jazz and things like that and we were in their pantomime club in that village and also in the panto as characters.
When we moved to Cambridge, we joined the city of Ely concert military band, we’re not soldiers, it’s a civilian band we do have very nice red soldier suits but it’s celebratory for things like Remembrance Sunday and parades and things like that.”
Judith: “Yes our whole lives together we’ve been playing in various pit bands in amateur dramatics and operatics.”
It’s been well documented by psychologists that couples who enjoy activities together often share added benefits to their marriage, we asked William and Judith they think playing music together has brought them closer together and why more couples should try taking up music!
William: “Well I think it’s mostly just because we’re together all of the time!”
Judith: “We see it sometimes when one half of a couple is in a band and the other is not, but every group we’ve been in since we were 15 has been the same.”
William: “And it’s had a spin off into the pantomimes too - we got a liking for that and have had four on in America already.”
When it comes to people taking up music, the thing you have to say first, is that it is simply for the sake of the music! I think all musicians love to play and that’s got to be the main driver. But beyond that I think it’s really the social side of it!”
Judith: “Yes, playing in groups is more fun than being on your own really!”
William: “I mean we’re so lucky that we can do our little duets together, we’ve got a range of those that we can play together. Whilst we’re not concert performers, but we can do somebody's garden party and tootle away as a form of entertainment.”
Judith: “You never know where music is going to take you, we obviously didn’t go to Luton Band hall expecting to meet each other - but there were also another couple in the Luton Junior band, who used to play in the front row of cornets, they are married and so there was four of us, we all married each other. We’re still in touch with them too.
In fact when our daughter was playing in the Bedford Youth Orchestra, we found ourselves suddenly meeting them in the audience and said what are you doing here? So they said their son was in the band playing trumpet and our daughter was in the band playing cello!”
William: “Absolutely when you join these bands you become part of a big network of people who will ring each other up and you’ll get a phone call asking to help out with the bands. You never know where it’s going next!”
Mental wellbeing has had enormous effects on people over the past year and throughout lockdown, here’s how William and Judith used their time to keep themselves entertained over the past year.
Judith: “I’ve been working on some Erik Satie on the piano, but mainly we’re just playing at home and we had the opportunity to provide our part for the carol service in Ely - some clever person put it all together on a zoom call so we played our part and played along with the rest of the band, that was great.”
William: “We are also teaching one of our grandsons the trumpet via zoom that’s tricky because you can’t play together.”
Judith: “We’ve got all these parts that we play together and then we can send him the parts and he can play along with it.”
William: “It’s tricky because obviously a child learning music through zoom, they’ve not got anyone to play with and so all of those skills you learn from sitting in an ensemble and listening to the other instruments, he’s not getting that! He’s officially in the school brass group but they can’t meet!
It’s a great sense of purpose! I’m teaching all the time so I’ve got a constant stream of grandchildren, we have 9, who want help with either Science or learning music so we’re never going to run out of that!”
Finally, we wanted to know that the pair’s plans for the future were and what they’re most excited to be getting back to once lockdown comes to an end.
Judith: “We’re hoping we’re allowed to play together with our band again! We want to get back to Ely band and that’s about it! We have in the summer in nice weather we play in Ely and Sandringham and places in Norfolk so it’ll be great to get back to that!”
William: “Absolutely, and I’m excited to hear Judith’s choirs starting up again, so seeing her singing again!”
Judith: “All I can say is that all the musicians we know are really struggling mentally because they can’t meet.”
William: “You build the whole structure of your life on top of it and then it suddenly stops so it’s difficult but we’re excited to get back!”
What an incredible story to get you in the valentine’s spirit! - Do you have a lockdown story you’d like to share? Simply get in touch with us @millersmusic or use #MillersMusic for your chance to feature on our next lockdown stories series!