GIFTED young musicians from Colchester were given a first-hand experience of military music from a group of Army experts.

Fourteen-to-16-year-olds from The Philip Morant School and College welcomed The Band of The Parachute Regiment, which is based at Merville Barracks, Colchester, for an afternoon masterclass giving a joint concert for parents in the evening.

The soldiers and students sat side-by-side at they ran through a medley of classics including the soundtracks to Thunderbirds and The Great Escape, as well as a handful of foot-tapping modern pop tunes more readily recognisable to the talented teenagers.

Teaching staff at the school said that the chance to play with – and learn from – such skilled musicians was not only a hugely enjoyable experience for the pupils, but also a valuable insight into a potential future profession.

Gordon Robb, head of music at The Philip Morant School, explained: “This kind of experience will stick in their memory for a long time, and will certainly be a highlight of their school career. It’ll give them a taste of what it’s like to be in a professional band, and it might stimulate them to join local bands outside of school.

“I think the military connection gives them a link to a career opportunity, and it’s certainly something I’ve been talking to the Year 10 students about. It’s something for them to think seriously about as a professional music-making career.”

WO2 Jon Rockey, band master of The Band of The Parachute Regiment, added: “It’s been fantastic – the students have been really enthusiastic, they’ve got involved, and they want to play, which is great. I think it’s really important the community knows the Army is here to support them and also to show we’re not just fighting soldiers; we do a little bit more than that.

“We’re always looking for new musicians, so if some of them are interested they’re more than welcome to come and join us over at Merville Barracks for a session, and if in the future, they join The Band of The Parachute Regiment, that’s absolutely fantastic!”