What it’s like to join SASWE… by Rachel Frost

Rachel Frost is a Theology Student and is studying at Edinburgh University, and hails from Cambridgeshire. We asked her to put her first impressions of joining SASWE as a clarinet player into words.

To say I was nervous about my first trip with the Salvation Army Symphonic Wind Ensemble is an understatement. I was still relatively new to the Salvation Army, having come to my local corps in Edinburgh as a student the previous year. This anxiety was centred mainly about a trip to Glasgow as, coming from Edinburgh, this was a place I was warned never to visit. None the less I stood waiting for my 6.30am train having been up for an hour pondering what else I was nervous about. The people were the next one, what would they be like? Would they be welcoming and friendly like at the Corps, or would they be a bit standoffish, especially given I was not a member? Then there was the music, I may have been a decent musician at school but that was compared to a limited number, how would I compare with the other musicians? Then there was the train travel, the drive to Shipley with two strangers, and a night Billeting with a couple who I had never met.

However, I am very pleased to say that none of these worries were validated. The people were some of the friendliest I had ever met and immediately made me feel welcome, by the end of the day I felt like I known some for years such was the genuine nature of their friendship. The music was wonderful, tunes that I both knew and did not know intermingled within a program of general fun. Whilst I can’t deny I struggled with some of the runs and the pace of “Just like John” I played everything smiling inwardly and outwardly such was the skill in the arrangements. My Train travel and inaugural trip to Glasgow were both successful. The  drive to the concert and the return were both fantastic fun, and taught me an awful lot of practical jokes to play on brass players! The couple I billeted were wonderful and I had the best breakfast of Pancakes that morning.  All in all it was a great trip and reflected many of the themes that first led me to the Salvation Army. I now look forward to the next gig and the chance for further chat and fellowship (just nit when we are supposed to be rehearsing).

I am a bit of an ecclesiastical all-sort, not really settling in a number of churches. I been a Methodist, Baptist, Church of England and had dabbled in the free church when I first came to university. All these churches had been good, but had not filled the fellowship category that I looked for in each new establishment. I had tried a couple of churches when I first came up to uni but none of them seemed to suit. I’d been emailed by the ‘Corps Officer’ (who I assumed was the leader, having never heard the term before) of the Salvation Army City Corps of Edinburgh and, as it was a 20 minute walk away from my halls, decided I’d go and have a look. The Corps immediately made me feel welcome, I felt taken into their family. The Corps are still, a year and a half later, a wonderful family. I have any number of adoptive parents and grandparents, as well as some siblings! The preaching and the music are all wonderful but what keeps me going back and what I miss when I can’t be there is the family. This is why I have chosen to stay in the Salvation Army, the fellowship and family element that they offer to all people.