Helen Varley

Helen Varley – Solo Horn

Helen was brought up in Yorkshire, an area well known for its prolific banding heritage, and was taught to play by her mentor James Shepherd, former principal cornet of the Black Dyke Band.

Helen spent many years as solo horn of the BT Band, followed by several years as solo horn at the YBS / Hammonds Saltaire Band.  Helen has also been the horn player with the highly successful 10-piece brass ensemble James Shepherd Versatile Brass, and in 2013 Helen joined the Black Dyke on 1st horn.

In 2003 and 2004 Helen reached the finals of the British Open Solo contest, on both occasions winning the instrumental title of Champion Horn Soloist, a prize which she won again in 2008.

Helen studied Physics with Acoustics at Salford University, and worked for over a decade as an acoustic consultant for the UK’s largest architectural practice, involved in the design and construction of building projects around the UK and abroad, including concert halls and educational buildings.

In 2016 Helen left the construction industry to follow her passion in music, undertaking a Masters degree in performance at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.  Helen is now developing a successful teaching career, and is currently tenor horn tutor at Salford University, the Junior RNCM and Chethams School of Music, as well as working as a peripatetic brass teacher for Bradford Music Service and providing occasional teaching work at Kneller Hall Royal Military School.

Helen was delighted to accept the position of solo horn at the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in 2017, a band that she has admired from a young age ever since hearing the wonderful sound of a brass band for the first time on Grimethorpe’s acclaimed CD ‘Classic Brass’.