Sharon Stansfield, F.V.C.M. (Hons), N.A.B.B.C.

Sharon, our Musical Director first joined Long Eaton Silver Prize Band in 1971 at the age of 9, along with her brother Carl. At first an instrument shortage meant that they had to share a cornet, until after six weeks Carl was given a baritone to play. Sharon was initially taught by Sid Bland, a fine cornet player in the band, who inspired in Sharon the desire to excel in cornet playing. Later lessons were from Ted Bradley, the principal Euphonium, who was to be the primary influence on Sharon’s early musical development. These early teachings by Sid and Ted have continued to stand Sharon in good stead throughout her entire musical career.

In 1971, the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band were in the second section (the first section was the Championship section in those days). At that time Sharon had three rehearsals a week: one on a Monday or Tuesday for the juniors, and then on the Friday evening and Sunday morning with the senior band. This period of success for the band came to an end in 1975 when after a series of internal disagreements, a number of players left, and the band were compelled to seek a re-grading to the fourth section, where they were to remain until Sharon returned as conductor.

Sharon first soloist position was on flugel, before, at the age of 15, she became the band’s principal cornet. During this period, Sharon entered many solo, duet, and quartet completions with fellow band members and was a frequent prize winner. The band enjoyed some modest success with the occasional third or fourth prize in local contents, whilst performing frequently in various parks during the summer and in clubs during the winter. At this time Sharon was taught at college by Laurie Fraser, with whom she studied trumpet and piano, and also joined the Nottinghamshire County Concert band as principal cornet under the musical direction of Lt. Col. George Evans of Kneller Hall.

At 18, Sharon left the Long Eaton Silver Prize Band to play with Bestwood Colliery Welfare Band, then in the Championship section. Further moves followed to other top East Midland bands including Riddings, Huthwaite, Ransomes, William Davis, Nottingham City Transport, Newstead, Thoresby Colliery and Ratby. Sharon also spent five years with the Nottinghamshire Band of the Royal Engineers (V) where she attained the rank of Corporal.

After leaving Long Eaton in 1980, Sharon maintained strong links with the band, both in making guest appearances at concerts, and in encouraging many of her pupils to join the band, and in January 2000, was delighted to accept an invitation to return to the band as musical director. Eight weeks later the band achieved its best result in the Midlands Area contest for many years: 17th out of 34 entered bands. The band continued to make remarkable progress, with qualifications for the National Finals in 2002 (the first since 1966), 2003 (when the band were National Final Runners-up), culminating in the band’s first national title since 1927, when becoming Third Section National Champions in 2006: Sharon being the first women to conduct a band to this title. In 2012, the band qualified for the National Finals for the fourth time in 10 years, confirming Sharon as the band’s most successful conductor since the late Harry Evetts.

Sharon first started teaching at the age of 15, and has achieved unprecedented success, with no pupil ever failing to achieve either a merit or distinction in any examination; most of Sharon’s pupils play in one of our bands.