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Band Profile

A profile of Colour Sergeant Wen Gregson
By Musician Ben Coleman

Colour Sergeant (CSgt) Wen Gregson, a commonwealth citizen from Hong Kong, joined the Band of the Welsh Guards (WG Band) in October 2013 after 12 years of service within the Corps of Army Music (CAMUS).  Prior to deciding that she wanted a career within British Military music Wen had been studying music in the USA since 1995. 2011 saw her travel to the United Kingdom in 2011 to start life professional musician in the British Army. Her achievements and career track is a note-worthy insight for any young musician looking for a career within CAMUS. So we took the first opportunity that arose to have a question and answer session with her!

Musn Coleman:  In 1995 you moved to the USA for academic reasons, where did you study?

CSgt Gregson:  I was studying music at Indiana University of Pennsylvania USA, where I achieved my master degree in music performance.

Musn Coleman: How many years were you there?

CSgt Gregson:  Combined with my Bachelor of Music degree I was studying there for a total of six years.

Musn Coleman:  Were you always planning on joining CAMUS in the British Army?

CSgt Gregson:  It was always in my mind that I wanted to be a full time professional musician; I was actually recruited by the Director of Music of the Band of The Royal Corps of Signals whilst he was visiting the university.  I was recruited as the replacement for the principal saxophonist, so in 2002 January I was posted to the Signals Band.

Musn Coleman:  Throughout your career, what has stood out as some of the highlights?

CSgt Gregson:  Some of my highlights include my tours with the Signals Band.  We travelled to many places such as Canada, Denmark and Germany.  I was also part of the first CAMUS Short Term training Team to Ethiopia to assist in training and development of their National Defence Force Bands.  Another highlight would be my two year post as a Phase 2 instructor at The Royal Military School of Music (RMSM) Kneller hall.  I certainly consider my current posting at the Band of the Welsh Guards a definite highlight – it is a privilege to be part of so many high profile state ceremonial duties.

Musn Coleman:  What was the appeal to you in becoming a Phase 2 instructor at Kneller Hall?

CSgt Gregson:  I was looking for new challenges and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I was given the opportunity and it was, for me, the right time to move from a band environment and take up the position as an instructor.  It was definitely challenging but that is why I did it. Our roles were to train, mentor and prepare trainee musicians to be ready for the challenges they may face as professional musicians in field army bands.

Musn Coleman:  When ‘off the clock’ what hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing?

CSgt Gregson:  Well I practice most of the time, I like reading and spending time with my husband and daughter.  I also spend a lot of time practising my instrument as it is my passion. I play soprano saxophone in a saxophone quartet which I formed with three other professional players, we tackle some very challenging repertoire and I need to keep improving my craft!

Musn Coleman:  What about sports?

Sgt Gregson:  I go running quite often and enjoy cycling.  I have discovered a new found love of skiing after the Band went on Adventure Training in the French Alpes..

Musn Coleman:  Earlier this year, The Band of the Welsh Guards were on tour in Jordan. What took the band to Jordan and what do you feel was the Jordanian musicians and our own gained from this experience?

CSgt Gregson:  In September the band was deployed to Jordan as a training unit to the Jordanian Armed Forces Band. Diplomatically it was an important exercise to continue to strength the bond between us and our close Middle Eastern ally.  I enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in a training environment again after my time at the RMSM and for many in the band this provided an unique opportunity to experience the role of an instructor.  Coaching, mentoring and teaching others not only to develop the skills of people we help, but reinforce our own knowledge and increase our confidence as musicians.  The Jordanians are dedicated and hardworking, and their positive attitudes towards learning made our work rewarding.

Musn Coleman:  After years of service within CAMUS, how do you feel the job has treated you?

CSgt Gregson:  The simple fact is I love my job and will continue to do so; I would like to continue working as a full time musician, making the most of the opportunities the army provides, and looking forward to the challenges to come.

We are fortunate to have Musicians such as CSgt Gregson amongst our ranks, as people like her are hardworking, dedicated and motivated , she strives not only to improve herself, but their colleagues too.  Wen’s experiences and grasp of a career in military music is a record that can both teach and inspire us to push ourselves and have a good time doing it!

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