Meet our Alumni – Stephen Bradley

The Music Service has had the privilege of working with many accomplished young musicians from Luton over the years. We asked some of them to share with you their experience learning and playing music and how it has helped them in their careers.

Stephen Bradley – Government Scientist (Farming)

What did you study with Luton Music Service?

Trombone (and occasionally euphonium)

What were your highlights?

Going on tour to Italy on Malta with Luton Youth Orchestra/Luton Youth Concert Band. Both tours were brilliant, and chances to visit places I never had. A particular highlight was playing with Luton Youth Jazz Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall as finalists at Music for Youth. It was great to see all the effort and work the band had put in to pull off a wonderful performance but I think one of my favourite memories is, whilst on tour to Ireland, the brass section conspiring to hide all the furniture from one of the staff member’s rooms… (sorry Mr. Router!) Of course, he immediately worked out it was us!

Where has music taken you?

After I left LMS, I went to the University of Leicester to study chemistry, where I joined the Big Band, Concert Band and Orchestra. When the big band’s conductor left at very short notice, I stepped in to conduct until the end of the year (something which, thanks to the opportunities the Music Service had given me to try conducting LYJO occasionally, I felt able to do!).

Unfortunately for them, I never stopped conducting, and ended up conducting the concert band too! I then moved to Bath, to complete a PhD in Chemical Engineering, where I set up and conducted a brass band, and joined the concert band, big band, and orchestra (who needs time to do their degree?!). After a while, as a thank you for conducting, the university paid for professional conducting lessons with Prof. Peter Stark of the Royal College of Music, and by the time I left, I was conducting the big band, brass band and concert band. It was a wonderful opportunity to have such teaching, and I’m very grateful for it!

Now I’m back in Luton, playing alongside a lot of the LMS teachers and pupils I played with before I ever left! I play in the South Beds Concert Band, the Hemel Symphony Orchestra, and the Luton Symphony Orchestra, and I’m lucky enough to be using my conducting experience to conduct the Luton Concert Band, Luton Concert Orchestra and Hitchin Community Brass Band.

What advice would you give our students?

My advice to a young musician would be to enjoy yourself, play the music that you love, and practice!! Also aim for the best – nothing is too difficult if you’re willing to put in the hours!

There are two bits of advice I would give:
1) Take every opportunity you possibly can. Play in seemingly odd events, play different styles of music, play in small chamber groups and in big ensembles. Even if some of those things take you outside your comfort zone, you never know who you’ll meet, and what it might lead to in future! And every one will be an experience.

2) Talk to everyone around you! Those around you making music with you will probably be some of your closest friends the rest of your life. Most of my friends, I met through music in one place or another. And a lot of those friends I made at LMS, I’m back playing with again now. You also have so many opportunities to learn from your peers as you’re surrounded by them, and some of them will give you some tips which will help your playing along.