A British company is celebrating UK Marching Brass week as it diversifies its range to fit new markets

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MIA Member John Packer Musical Instruments has a history for branching out; developing its own range of instruments in response to government initiatives, such as developing junior instruments for the endangered species program as well as providing affordable instruments for the wider opportunities. Some years later and seeing a dwindling investment into music education with a complete range of brass and woodwind, the company sought new markets around the world…

The largest market for brass and woodwind is North America and in 2009 John Packer gained its first dealer in the East Coast and with a lot of hard work has never looked back. Ten years later, the Somerset based company has a distribution facility in North Carolina and boasts a dealership that spans nearly every state in America. With the US music education scene being vastly different to the UK, the company has had to listen and adapt.

Company Director Rob Hanson explains: “In America middle and high schools generally have a much bigger commitment towards music than we have here in the UK. Especially when that is combined with the school’s sports department, to work alongside the school football team and other sporting activities. We regularly see high school bands featuring hundreds of musicians marching the field.

“Whilst we had fantastic trumpets, trombones and saxophones for marching bands, such as the award winning JP251 Smith-Watkins trumpet and famous JP Rath Trombones, we needed to develop a range of specific marching instruments to fulfil this market.”

Packers began supplying marching Mellophones to musical instrument retailers in the American market in 2015 and now has a range of five marching brass instruments that are used in school bands across America; including Marching Baritone, Marching French horn, Marching Euphonium and Sousaphone.

The John Packer brand has a huge following in the US, with instruments being used by some of the top high school bands, including the multi award winning Broken Arrow, The Pride of Bixby and Bartlett High School Band. The Pride of Bixby was fortunate to be invited to do the New Year’s Day Parade in London this year, featuring the entire JP marching brass line.

Rob continues: “Marching is huge in the US; they will work for months perfecting routines to showcase and compete against other bands, pretty much as UK brass bands do here in the UK, but on a much bigger scale. The dedication and attention to detail the musicians and performers demonstrate builds character and is something the whole community takes pride in. It is very inspiring; it would be great if we could foster something similar in this country.”

The UK music industry has started to taken an interest in marching brass instruments; Sousaphones have been spotted on stages in the UK for many years; in the folk scene and modern takes on the New Orleans jazz style. The first week of May is Marching Band Awareness Week.

The full JP Marching brass range is now available in the UK, so schools and ensembles can take inspiration from across the pond and try and emulate the American style marching band. There are several US style marching bands in the UK and we hope to see that rise.”

Visit www.jpmusicalinstruments.com for further information