Bader’s Big Band kicks off with a very successful audition day

The wonderful Soundstage Studios in Acton was the venue on Sunday 22nd October for our first auditions for Bader’s Big Band. And what a thoroughly enjoyable and successful day we all had.

Sadly a few auditionees weren’t able to attend but we were extremely grateful to those who did: Jerri Hart (vocals and trumpet); Hamish Downard (trombone); Rebecca Slater (trumpet); Bob Wilcox (drums); Geoff Stear (bass guitar); Emma Sanders (vocals and trumpet) and Shona Brownlee (French horn and keyboard). To fill in a couple of gaps, Paul Clark, musical director, had drafted in a saxophonist, Ollie Smith, and a keyboard accompanist, Stephen Skews. We were very glad of their expertise, help and support throughout the day.

Sunday started with much needed cups of coffee and cakes and the chance for the musicians, families and DBF representatives to meet and chat. Musicians were then put through the ordeal of individual interviews before reconvening in the studio for the first session. Several of the musicians were also filmed individually during the day, which gave us an insight into some of the challenges they faced and how they’d come to hear about and audition for Bader’s Big Band. Following the interviews, Paul made the decision to go straight into group playing rather than individual auditions, which turned out to be a wise move; it quickly became apparent that even with fewer musicians than expected, the potential was exciting. After lunch, the music resumed. Paul Clark had pulled out all the stops, painstakingly arranging the music for the rather small line up of musicians. An inspired and experienced Band leader, he was soon pulling the musicians together and with their confidence increasing helped by plenty of mutual support, the quality and coherence of the playing increased exponentially and those of us watching could only listen with astonishment and delight.

By the end of the day there had been successful renditions of “Summertime“, ‘’Fly Me To The Moon’’, ‘’I’m Feeling Good’’ ‘’Don’t Know Why’’ and ’’How Sweet It Is’’. The progress made during just one afternoon had been extraordinary.

Next on the agenda is a Residential Weekend in December. It’s going to be fascinating to see just what can be achieved with longer to rehearse and additional musicians.

There’s still time to join Bader’s Big Band:

We are still looking to recruit more musicians, particularly Alto, Tenor and Bari Sax players and trombonists. If you play one of these or other instruments and have a physical disability or a diagnosed mental health condition we’d love to hear from you. Do please complete the form at the bottom of this post or contact Paul Clark by emailing if you’ve got any questions or would like more information first.

Bader’s Big Band will be the first ever Big Band consisting almost entirely of musicians from the UK with a physical disability or diagnosed mental health condition. There’s no reason why Bader’s Big Band can’t just be a good band but a VERY good band; a band that will make people take notice and realise that where there’s a will, anything is possible. That’s our aim and with your involvement, we’ll all achieve it together!

If, having watched the videos, you still need more convincing that having a disability doesn’t mean that you can’t be a good musician, take a look at this extraordinary and inspiring video of horn player, Felix Klieser….

Our sincere thanks to all the lovely musicians and their families and friends who came along to play, support and help on Sunday and also to Tom Greader for the wonderful film. It was fascinating to watch him getting in (very) close to get his shots without people even seeming to notice he was there. The useful skill of selective invisibility for cameramen in evidence! You all made it a very special day.

Links: (these will open in new tabs) (The Thomas Greador link is now showing the correct video, apologies to those who previously found themselves watching the draft with a collection of people mysteriously called “Surname”!)

Bader's Big Band Audition Form




Please tell us a bit about yourself
'Bader's Big Band' is looking to recruit musicians with a physical disability or a diagnosed mental health condition. Please could you tell us about the nature of your disability and what impact it has on your life?
Please let us know if there's anything that would make taking part in the band easier for you


Please select from the drop down menu & add approximate grade if relevant

(We're keen to hear from musicians playing any instrument but are looking in particular for Alto, Tenor and Baritone sax players; Trumpet and Trombone players; Piano/Keyboard players; Bass players; Guitar players; Drum kit players & Vocalists.)

Please select from the drop down menu.
(Due to limited rehearsal times it will be helpful if you have some degree of music reading ability)
Please select from the drop down menu
If possible please supply music recording or video links to examples of you playing


Being a member of 'Bader's Big Band' will require commitment.

A schedule has been established which will enable the band to reach performance standard within a reasonable time frame. Musicians selected must be prepared to travel to the scheduled rehearsals. The Douglas Bader Foundation will cover travel, rehearsal, recording and performance

Proposed Time Frame & Schedule

September 30th - Application Deadline
October 21st/22nd - Audition to be held at Soundstage Studios, London
December 9th/10th - Residential weekend rehearsal (additional weekend rehearsal date to be confirmed)
(First short performance for a selected audience)

January 20th - Day rehearsal
February 10th - Day rehearsal
Week commencing February 19th - Recording 3 songs in well-known studio
March 24th - Day rehearsal
April 19th - Day rehearsal
April 20th - First public performance

A degree of flexibility will obviously be necessary within the schedule/time frame to take the rate of progress into account.

Rehearsal venues to be decided based on geographic convenience once the musicians are selected.

Please tell us in the box below if you know you will have a problem attending any of the above dates


Please be sure to read the statements below before signing the form

I have read and understood the questions above and have answered

I further understand that film and photographs of the'Bader's Big Band' project as described may be taken and accept that by signing this form, I am permitting any file or pictures which may contain images of myself and/or any of my family members to be used for promotional purposes by The Douglas Bader Foundation and 'Bader's Big Band'


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