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Mark Simkins

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United Kingdom

Unlike many on this site, I'm not going to speak about myself in the third person…

I was born on August 6th 1983. I must blame the secondary school I went to for developing my love of music (The Knights Templar School), which had a fantastic music department. I achieved a high A grade at A-Level music there.

I play the trumpet and the piano, and while I'm officially only a grade 3 on the trumpet, I'm unofficially grade 8. Piano is another matter entirely. I almost taught myself until the start of the A-Levels, where I took about a year's tuition and got up to grade 6 level. Unofficially, that is…

I've played in many bands and orchestras, starting with the School wind band, orchestra and also the senior choir. Then I became involved in the Hertfordshire County Brass Band (fantastic!), including a tour to Germany and a CD release, and also the Herts. Symphony Schools Orchestra (also fantastic!). I helped out occasionally with the elite Herts. County Youth Orchestra when they needed an extra trumpet player. Unfortunately I had to give that all up because of university, so I began playing in the Uni Wind Band/Orchestra and the Swansea City Orchestra/Concert Band.

So, assuming you were hanging on my every word, this would imply that I went to Swansea University, which is accurate. I had a �1000 yearly music scholarship to keep me going during my three years of Computer Science. In my final year, I was headhunted to help out a local brass band in a competition they were taking part. So, I agreed, only to be immediately thrown into the top Solo Cornet position. No pressure, only performing in a new amazing band playing all the solos of music I've never even heard of before! And as I had to borrow a cornet, this was also on an instrument I'd not played before. It was amazing fun, and while we didn't do quite as well as we could've (nerves) it was still a good experience. I really regret leaving that band, but I live across the other side of the UK, so travelling there every Sunday and Tuesday would be a little difficult..!

Once I'd finished university, I had to find local orchestras to join. I briefly joined the Hertfordshire Philharmonic Orchestra, and performed Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, which was a real treat. I've always liked Shostakovich's music, and it was amazing to play this as my first performance of one of his works. I then moved to Cambridge, quit that orchestra, and joined the Cambridge Philharmonic Society. I've also helped out in the Cambridge String Players orchestra.

I've really been struggling with inspiration recently, as in the last few years, so hopefully something'll happen soon to help me break through the writers block…