Join in ... with the Murray Bridge Community Concert Band
Les Smith and Ben Daly invite you to take up your instruments - or any instrument for that matter - and become involved with this local music movement.
When you hear the phrase ‘all creatures great and small’, the Murray Bridge Community Concert Band may not be the first thing that springs to mind.
However, it certainly should be.
The band’s instruments range from the flute to the cello, and its members range from high school students to ex-servicemen.
President Les Smith was in the infantry for 21 years, from 1973-1994; more than 20 years later, he started to learn the tenor sax.
Meanwhile, conductor Ben Daly has been in the Navy Reserve band for the last 25 years, and knows how to play the trombone, alto sax, clarinet and flute.
If all this has struck a chord with you, then today is your lucky day, because the band is on the look-out for new members of all ages and abilities.
Here’s why you should become involved.
When did you first get involved with the Murray Bridge Community Concert Band?
Ben: I’ve been conducting since 2019. The local high school music teacher, Sean Hickey, contacted me and said the community concert band needed a conductor. I rang the president at the time and he said the job was available, so I took it. So I’ve been there for around four years now.
Les: I’ve been learning the tenor saxophone for about nine years. Around two years in, my teacher, Gary Mouard, said I should join the band because it would be the best way to learn, and I’ve been there ever since. About four years ago I became the president.
What do you spend your time doing each week?
Les: Our practices run every week on Thursdays at 7pm. If there is a show coming up we’ll prepare for that. Every practice Ben will take us through an instrument warm up to begin with and then we run through our pieces.
Ben: So we run through scales and technique work every session. It’s good to have that practice all the way through.
What do you get out of your involvement?
Ben: When give back to the community by helping people learn instruments or when you perform, you get a real kick out of it. A lot of our band members that are school aged are too good for their school bands, so the next step up is the community band. So it’s also being able to offer them that midway step between high school and university. The other night at practice, my mum – who is 75 and plays the cello – was sitting next to our youngest band member, who is about 13 and plays clarinet and percussion, and she was mentoring the younger person.
Les: You just don’t see that kind of thing anywhere else. There is a good community feel to the band, we’re such a diverse group of people. Our members range from 13 to 86 in age. And when you’ve had a bad week or you’re under a lot of stress, you can always just sit down and play, and everything goes away.
What is your fondest memory of your time with the concert band?
Les: My first show with the band which was in John Dohler Hall in 2019. It was a big concert, we filled the entire hall. We went back there for a performance in 2021 and filled the hall again. I’d have to say performing is my favourite part of being in the band.
Why should people join the concert band?
Les: It’s a community bonding thing. Learning music is something good to do, and we’re always after new players. If you can’t afford to buy an instrument we can loan one to you. We’ll have a come and try night on Thursday, September 22 at 6.45pm, to show people what being in the concert band is like.
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