Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
Musical and Dramatic Activities
Aberdare Boys’ Comprehensive School Jazz Band/Orchestra
Terry Harding’s Big Band — Hardy’s Magic
The band was established by Mr Terry Harding who joined the staff in 1984, initially
to teach Design and Technology. After one term Terry moved to the vacant post of teaching
Technical and Engineering Drawing on the main school site. With the establishment by Mid-Glamorgan
of a more technically-based curriculum - the TVEI initiative - Terry became the school’s
Electronics guru in a brand new department.
Terry had rejected the chance to attend his local grammar school in favour of an education at the Thomas Richards Mining and Technical Institute in Tredegar. He gained an apprenticeship at the steel works in Ebbw Vale and moved to Hoovers at Merthyr some years later. His interest in playing music began at a Jazz concert he happened to attend whilst on holiday at Blackpool. When he returned home, he bought himself a clarinet and began to teach himself before seeking more professional guidance, finally attending a course at The Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Hear the Band Play
Click on the thumbnails to view the full size pictures.
First Gig and band development
His first ‘gig’ at Aberdare Boys’ was as a substitute clarinettist in a wind trio at a School Prize Evening after an urgent plea from Mr Conway Morgan the then Head of Music who had become aware of Terry’s talents. From this inauspicious start, great things grew. He established the Jazz Band in 1986/87 and so helped inspire a whole host of pupils to take up music in a way they had never imagined. Huw Parkman one of the boys in the band came up with a suitable name, and Hardy’s Magic was born.
As their repertoire and confidence increased, obligatory school functions soon proved insufficient to demonstrate the Band’s prowess. They were soon capable of providing two hours of quality entertainment and were in demand in the local area. The next requirement was a road manager and Mr Gerald Morgan, the school D&T Technician stepped into the breach. The reputation of the band grew and they were in demand at the Ynys Centre, St Fagan’s Church, the Town Library, local hospitals and nursing homes, supermarkets, local hostelries and a host of other places. In addition, the band started to perform with other local artists including The Beaufort Male Voice Choir and of course The Cwmbach Choir. They also held their ground in support of the New Squadronaires at Newbridge Leisure Centre where they gained a standing ovation from a large and appreciative audience. The band also played for the Welsh Jazz Society in Cardiff.
Andernach, Germany - Rhine
Supper on The Rhine
Ffynnon Glas Hotel, Rhymney
Public competitions followed. They were three-times winners at the Gwent Music Festival
and received a ‘highly commended’ performance at the Gower Festival in
Holland. Following participation in a Daily Telegraph Young Jazz event, the
band received a jazz ‘workshop’ from a professional jazz musician — one
Dick Hamer. The band also spread their magic overseas with a number of summer tours
to Austria, Holland, Germany and the French Alps. The trips were mainly self-financed
through a series of local concerts with some sponsorship, Aberdare Round Table providing
good support through tee-shirts with the band logo. As could be expected, some trips
could be high-spirited affairs and Terry on one occasion took the precaution of wearing
out his charges with a fairly gruelling Alpine walk late in the day. The boys’ comments
were quite interesting and informative it seems.
Cruising Down The Rhine
At St Fagan’s,
An excursion in
Playing on the same bill as The Squadronaires Big Band at Newbridge Leisure Centre, 1990
Band in Action
Fund Raising, Sunday, 26 June 1988
Finding the money for tours and for the purchase of band part sheet music required
frequent fund raising. Here you see a contingent of the band playing in
Commercial Street, Aberdare to raise funds.
Music & Players
The musical arrangements played by the band were those made famous during the big band era of the 1940s; for example, numbers popularised by the bands of Glen Miller, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Gene Kruper. More contemporary numbers such as the songs of The Beatles, were introduced at a later date. The line-up in these swing bands included saxophones, trumpets, and trombones with a rhythm section comprising piano, bass, drums and rhythm guitar. The sheet music required by the band and the conductor was imported1 from the United States at a typical cost of about £60 per arrangement. Consequently, it took several years to build up a repertoire sufficient to hold a concert. The first arrangement ever purchased and performed by the band was Basin St. Blues, made famous by Louis Armstrong.
The first number played in every concert was always Bandstand Boogie with the final number being In the Mood or Sing Sing Sing. A typical concert would have included the following numbers. Bandstand Boogie, Say Say Say, Basin St. Blues, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, String of Pearls, Tuxedo Junction, Mack the Knife, St. Louis Blues March, Georgia, Birth of the Blues, New York New York, Big Noise from Winnetka, Rock Around the Clock, Yesterday, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Get Back, Shake Rattle and Roll, American Patrol, Hang on Sloopy, and In the Mood.
Originally there was much competition for a place in the band so it was necessary to audition those interested. Players were expected to have attained at least Grade 5 of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. All soloists in the band were expected to learn their solo parts so that they could stand in front of the band during a performance and play without the need of their music in front of them.
Terry Harding conducting.
Some Prominent Early Members of Hardys Magic
Alun Williams, Martin Childs, Mark Evans, Gareth Richards-Jones, Guy Melhuish, Phillip Cook, Barrie Evans, Matthew Price, Lee Phillips, David Harding, Matthew Penny, Matthew Parish, Jonathan Pope, Daniel Jones, Chris Parish, Luke Rees, Jonathan Rees, Adam Pavett, Leigh Williams, Gavin Nelson, Josh Gardner, Darryl Robbins, Owen Davies, Gareth Thomas, Tim Price
Huw Parkman, Alun Richards-Jones, Richard Hayes, Ross Lane, David Hubber, Seth Adams, Michael Barratt, Lee Williams, Nicholas Hurley, David Williams, Jonathan James, Rhodri Williams, Mark Street, Jamie Savan
Geraint Williams, Iestyn Harding, Geraint Thomas, Rhys Kerr, Matthew Williams, Matthew Parsell, Chris Hubber, Drew Davies
Neil Jones, Andrew Jones, Gareth Evans, John Morris, Anthony Hicks, Meirion Townsend
Jonathan Parker, Scott Howells, Richard Noble, Elliott Matthews, Adam Robinson
John Lucas, Steven Gregory
Chris Williams, Chris Lewis, Owen Rowlands, Richard Lloyd, Matthew Jones
Terry finally retires from the school this summer - 2012. I think I can safely say that generations of boys and their parents wish him and his wife a very long and happy retirement and thank him for the opportunities he brought into their lives. The band continues under the supervision of the Head of Music, Mr Roland Gibbs We wish them all the best for the future too.
Written by an ex-Staff Member
1 Such musical arrangements referred to may still be obtained
from the U.S. The examples below also allow the purchaser to listen to the arrangement
on-line before purchasing. For example, from J.W. Pepper:
American Patrol, String of Pearls
and from Powerhouse Orchestrations in the UK, before purchase a bandleader can hear an arrangement as well as see a few pages of the score. Try clicking the mp3 and pdf links in ‘Samples’ for Have I told you lately.
(All three links above open in a new windows, which should be closed after use.)