ANZAC Day 25th April.
A very important day in Australian society commemorating our fallen war servicemen from past conflicts including World War 1 and World War 2 since the 1899 Boer War.
A special day for community band music-making for Brass Bands, Concert Bands, Pipe and Drum Bands, and Choirs who would participate in the local veteran parades.
ANZAC Day has become a highly significant day for my family in Sydney. Memories of my family including my Mum and my Grandfather, Mr Jack Dransfield who served in World War 2 including Egypt and Trobruk where he turned 21, then serving in Crete then eventually New Guinea on the Kokoda Track.
As both a music educator and father, It has been my honour to introduce the traditions of ANZAC Day Marching Band to my music students and families participating in this important parade commemoration.
As a beginner trumpet player, starting music at aged 11 with The Beverly Hills Boys Brass Band we would perform at ANZAC Day events including 5 am Dawn Services at local cenotaph memorials and RSL (Returned Services League for veterans ) war memorial commemorative performances. Beverly Hill Brass and Eastwood Concert Band were conducted by Mr Ray Doyle who encouraged me to switch from Cornet to Baritone and then Trombone.
These ANZAC Day traditions continued in my youth as a member of The Georges River Concert Band conducted by Dave Roffe and then Sydney Schools Performing Ensembles in the mid-'80s, then performing in the Conservatorium of Music Ensembles through the '90s.
Since approximately 2005 I have had the pleasure and matching blood sweat and tears! in preparing the Marist College North Shore Concert Band into a marching band to participate in the Sydney ANZAC Day March usually about 45 students and a regular selection of proud ex-students who would also rejoin Marist for this important event.
I was shocked and honoured to have our first Marist participation in the ANZAC Day march leading my Grandfather Jack Dransfield WW2 unit!
Marching Band season preparation starts in February Term 1week 1!
Hats off to the wonderful new Year 7 students who are thrown into the deep end where they need to learn how to march whilst playing and learn and perform difficult brand new music at the same time!
I love the "unofficial" band traditions where older students step up and assist new younger musicians in learning to march and also seeing then take pride in their instrument sections being able to play their parts well!
It is great seeing the older drummers take control of their drumline and teach a selection march patterns and funky drumline cadence patterns to the young guys!
I would also train a senior high year 12 army cadet student to act as the band Drum Major leading the band with the silver mace stick in the parades.
We would also perform a marching parade at the Sydney Easter Royal Agricultural Show one week before ANZAC Day.
For many years Marist Marching Band would lead a private march for the Sydney Catholic Club RSL sub-branch on the evening 24th April for ex-servicemen and women and their families.
Our ANZAC marching repertoire includes "Advance Australia Fair", "Colonel Bogey", Marsit Anthem "Sub Tuum Praesidium", El Capitan", WW2 Soldier song "It's A Long Way To Tipperary", "Waltzing Matilda" and the first brass band march I learnt age 11, "Sussex By The Sea" written 1907 by William Ward-Higgs. Funky Easter show repertoire included "Sixties Superhits Born To Be Wild" and "YMCA" including funk drumline grooves.
My ANZAC Day would usually begin by arriving in the city at 4.30 am often attending the Martin Place Cenotaph Dawn Service until 5.30 am.
I would walk down to the Sydney Opera House and sit and watch the morning sunrise leaving pitch darkness, red horizon rising to crisp a clear cold winters day.
Marist Band would meet and form up outside Conservatorium at 8 am, leading up marching to Martin Place where all the marching bands meet and then fall into the parade through the Band Chute. Often a lot of waiting, but always for me a wonderful annual musicians reunion chatting with old musician friends from the band community!
It is wonderful letting our students hear and see some of the great marching bands participating in the ANZAC parade! Groups of all sizes, 10 people bands to 100 piece ensembles! A music lesson for all!
I am very proud of my students and the great effort from all community bands in preparing for this event!
Often post-march elevenses with old brass band pals.
After the March, on every street corner, there would be groups of bagpipes and drummers enjoying performing impromptu bagpipe jam sessions especially a midday mass pipe band meeting in the Martin Place Cenotaph with often 100's of pipers!
2020 has proved a change from these traditions. All ANZAC ceremonies cancelled.
On ANZAC DAY 2022 marching bands will once again provide music support for our veterans.
Brass players have been called to honour the ANZAC tradition by performing "The Last Post" outside their homes at 6 am.