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Volunteering at UniBrass: My Experience

Liz Armett was a cornet player in Durham University Brass Band and competed at UniBrass from 2015 to 2017.

Since graduating, Liz has stayed involved with UniBrass community by joining the UniBrass Family and volunteering at the contest.

Here's what she has to say about her experience.

Why did you become a contest volunteer?

Making the decision to volunteer for the first time at UniBrass 2019 was easy. After participating in the contest with Durham University from 2015-2017 (and attending in 2018 as a graduate who wasn't quite ready to let go!), I was very keen to remain part of the event that had always been the highlight of my university banding calendar. It helped that a number of my banding friends from Durham were already involved in the UniBrass Foundation - I felt very much like the odd one out disappearing off into graduate life without continuing to support the contest.

What did you expect?

Despite attending the contest for four years, I didn't really have much idea what to expect as a volunteer, but turned up in Bangor on a very cold morning in 2019 bright eyed (ish!) and ready to get stuck in!

What volunteer roles are there and what did you do?

There are a variety of roles open to volunteers at the contest, from ushering bands to selling merchandise and looking after audience members. However, for both the 2019 and the 2020 contests I was allocated the role of looking after the adjudicators.

This essentially meant being responsible for ensuring that the contest adjudicators, writing materials, remark sheets and scores were in the right place at the right time. I also had the crucial job of keeping them well-fuelled with coffee and snacks!

I really enjoyed this volunteer role as it meant that I was in the perfect position to cheer on Durham during their performance!

What was your experience like?

Despite a few early bumps in the road, not least in the first five minutes of the 2019 contest when I was set free to shepherd a band to contest control regardless of the fact I had no idea where it was (or, for that matter, where I was!), both the University Organising Committee and the UniBrass Foundation Trustees were brilliant at answering questions and making sure everything ran smoothly.

Are there any challenges?

There's absolutely no question that volunteering on contest day is exhausting and there are some moments when you question your own sanity (moving the same set of hundreds of chairs twice and cleaning up post-bierkeller both spring to mind), but I can say without a doubt that I'll volunteer again in a heartbeat.

Any final thoughts?

Being part of a contest that gives university brass musicians the opportunity to be incredibly creative and contributed so much to keeping young adults involved in brass bands through higher education feels really rewarding.

Most importantly, as both a UniBrass participant and a volunteer I've met so many like-minded friends from all over the UK that contest weekend provides a wonderful opportunity to catch up. Needless to say, volunteering still allows plenty of time to do just that!

See you in Sheffield in 2022!

Would you like to volunteer at UniBrass?

Sign up to volunteer at this year's contest here!

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