Jan, a staunch supporter of NAPT, passed away on December 14th after a courageous battle with cancer.
As many of you will know, Jan was a player and teacher of distinction. A native of Liverpool, she studied Percussion with John Ward, Principal Percussion of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, gaining her early experience with the local youth orchestra where she met her future husband Mike, a clarinettist. Jan studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Gilbert Webster, recently retired BBC Symphony principal Percussion.
Freelancing after College, she was offered a position with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, which came about as a result of stepping in at short notice to play Britten's War Requiem on a pair of non-matching cymbals. After leaving the BSO, she continued to play with the orchestra as an extra and began an extraordinarily successful career as a teacher of Percussion.
Jan was an early member of NAPT. She was a committee member for many years, during part of which time she served as Newsletter editor. Some early and memorable articles were printed under her stewardship.
Jan was an examiner for the Guildhall School of Music's Percussion examinations, and later the Trinity Guildhall exams. Through these she was able to help less experienced colleagues with sound advice, based on her considerable experience.
She composed and arranged music for all three of the orchestral disciplines of the TG examinations. We co-wrote the Snare Drum syllabus where Jan was hugely helpful in stating what she thought would work for young players and what wouldn't. The process involved spending several weekends working on ideas, walking on the beach in Bournemouth, and having a few glasses of wine. Mike helped by creating samples of the music, and supplying the wine.
She was a fun person, good to be with.
Jan was also a long-standing member of the Percussive Arts Society. She and Mike helped out with the admin for several PAS UK events, looking after ticket sales and ensuring smooth administration on the actual day of the event. They performed the same functions at several NAPT AGMs; one of the most successful being held at Wells Cathedral School.
The pinnacle of her teaching career, was I believe, her time at Wells Cathedral School with her friend and colleague Jane Obradovic. The Wells Music Department turns out well-schooled young musicians. We have two of them studying with us currently at the RCM. Jan was also keenly involved with Outreach projects whilst at Wells.
Jan was someone who lived life to the full. She was kind and friendly, giving freely of her knowledge and her experience, supported throughout by her husband Mike. She was sustained throughout her illness by the love of her family and her faith. The order service at her funeral described her as Wife Mother Musician which describes Jan in a nutshell.
On the NAPT Facebook page there are many fine tributes from her friends and colleagues which refer to her kindness.
She is someone whom we will all miss.
Jack Richards, co-founder with Brian Stone of the NAPT, died on April 5th, 2013 aged 65. Sadly, Jack took his own life. The funeral took place at Cowes Baptist Church where Jack had been a regular worshipper. Jack had been an active member of the congregation.
The service was attended by many people: so many that the start of the service was delayed for some time as extra seating was made available. Even so, it was a standing room only event.
During the service, the hymns were accompanied by percussion. Jack himself had played each week during the regular service.
NAPT members present included Brian Stone, Tony Stockley and myself. Also present were percussionists Clive Malibar and Dave Webster.
During the service tributes were given by Jack’s daughter, Sally, son, Ben and his wife, Helen. A tribute was given by author Adrian Serle, with whom Jack had been writing a book about the Quintinshill rail disaster, Britain’s largest. Jack and Adrian believe that a gross miscarriage of justice had been carried out in the wake of this incident and together they had been researching the book soon to be published.
Railways had been one of the passions of Jack’s life. He had campaigned with others to restore the local railway, which was nearly achieved.
Jack was also a model railway enthusiast: something which brought out the attention to detail which he applied to everything.
The closing music to the service was a recording of Tiny Tim singing ‘Tiptoe through the Tulips’. Jack had played this with Tiny Tim during the Isle of Wight Festival.
In lieu of flowers, the NAPT has sent a donation to the Robert Kumar Fund for young Isle of Wight musicians, as requested by the family.
As we all know, Jack, along with Brian Stone founded the NAPT and was its first Chairman. It was due to their commitment that the association came into being. Jack cared passionately about percussion teaching and achieving high standards.
Also along with Brian Stone, he instituted the Guildhall School of Music Percussion Exams which were the first of their kind in the UK and provided a template for the various exam systems which followed. Jack and Brian later on created the percussion exams for the London College of Music.
Jack whose integrity and commitment were emphasised during the service has left the percussion world with two legacies: the NAPT and a sound exam structure.
Jack’s passing is a sad loss to us and to our colleagues.
About thirty-five years ago, I met a man called Jack Richards. He was establishing the first serious percussion exams in the UK and I had managed to notice and enter some snare drummers for the first GSMD exams.
He came to exam my pupils and after much talk and playing requested I join him in writing the rest of the syllabus. This was the beginning of a long friendship sadly ended with his recent death.
He was responsible for establishing an effective examination system that has changed the face of percussion in this country. We now have an army of percussion teachers in the UK of a very high standard of skill and technical knowledge, who were stimulated by bench-marks that Jack set, to cover a more comprehensive study of percussion than had previously existed in this country.
I felt privileged to attend his funeral with Michael Skinner and Tony Stockley by my side – two other close friends of Jack.
Many people in the percussion world will know that Jack established serious parameters in the learning of percussion playing in this country. We are now reaping the benefits of his efforts and dedication to percussion in as much as there are now so many talented players with great technique and skill who are being taught by teachers who studied his exams and technical requirements to be able to play percussion well.
Jack seemed to me and many others to have a natural gift for knowing how to inspire teachers and pupils and accurately test young people in learning to play percussion. He set sensible and achievable standards for the cognitive development of the aspiring drummer and percussionist.
I watched him teach and I learnt a lot. I watched him play and learnt a lot. When he led the team in examining and writing the syllabus for both GSMD and LCM, we all learnt a lot. He was a figurehead and leader whom I cannot praise enough.
His complicated life and interests were borne out by the very large attendance at his funeral. I counted in the region of 500 mourners present of which were past pupils, teaching colleagues, railway enthusiasts, examiners , locals, friends and many relatives.
His interest in helping both pupils and teachers of percussion led to him asking myself and Sean Hooper to form the NAPT. This valuable body immediately attracted Michael Skinner as President (and still is after nearly 30 years) and was rapidly joined by a host of highly-regarded teachers from Truro to Perth.
This institution is still to the fore in the percussion world today and has played many important roles for percussionists not least the inclusion of percussion in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, which was promptly won by a percussionist.
Jack also had a wealth of knowledge about trains. He was very highly regarded by others with a deep interest in railways and how they ran.
He was however, a very personal man and a very troubled man because he could not abide foolishness or things that were not right.