Helen first started playing brass at school in Ayrshire, first with the Ayr Area Schools Band, then Benquhat Band. In 1980 she was one of the first students to study on the pioneering Brass Band Musicianship Course at the University of Salford.
Helen has a vast amount of experience both as a performer and teacher. Over the last 30 years she has held teaching posts throughout the North West of England, and in 1988/9 she spent a year in the Sultanate of Oman, as Low Brass Tutor to the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.
After a successful 15 years as Head of Brass for Bolton Music Service, Helen is now pursuing a freelance career, and has set up a very successful music teaching company, Minshall Music Ltd, with her daughter and son in law, Samantha and Neil Raisbeck. The company delivers high quality brass tuition in a growing number of schools in Salford and Bolton.
Helen has spent 25 years directing the Astley Youth Band organisation, a registered charity which now includes 3 bands and a choir, with a weekly membership of around 140 in total. Helen is also the Musical Director of Lancashire Youth Brass Band, Lancashire Youth Street Band, and is an Education Consultant for the Warwick Music Group.
Helen’s many years of hard work with young people in brass bands were formally recognized in 2014 when she was presented with the Mortimer Medal for services to young brass players from the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
Helen has never forgotten her Scottish roots, and is always keen for any opportunity to visit Scotland and get involved with musical activities and events. In the last couple of years she had undertaken successful recruitment projects in schools on behalf of Dalmellington Band, Kirkintilloch Band and Arran Brass, a series of workshops for Ayr Salvation Army Band, and workshops for beginner players at the West of Scotland Brass Band Championships in Troon in August 2019.
Helen is delighted to be invited to tutor at the Coalburn Band Open Day, and is looking forward to it very much.