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Excerpt from Oct 1984 CAN Vic Newsletter - Gillian Harrison
8 Nov 2014
Published To
When Westech Concert Band played at Williamstown Naval Dockyards one lunchtime in March, the suggestion of putting together a dock yard band or two resulted in a list of twenty interested musicians by the end of the day. Within a month there were forty – ex navy band players, rock and rollers, classical musicians and exponents of every music style in between.

Lunchtime rehearsals were soon organised for the big band, rock and folk bands. The two remaining lunch times were used for guitar, theory and keyboard lessons, given by the more experienced musicians in the yard.

However it has not all been easy. A musicians sub-committee of the W.N.D Arts and Education Committee was formed to address specific music issues – lack f instruments (many of the brass and wind players no longer owned instruments and did not have a spare couple of thousand dollars to acquire them), inadequate rehearsal space, unsatisfactory storage facilities (the fork lift drivers kept knocking over the locked container full of instruments and amplifiers out in the yard), and insufficient rehearsal time.

Not the sort of people to be thwarted by difficulties, the dockyards musos were in fact fired by the situation and groups temporarily disbanded (a musical term for going on strike). After a series of meetings and discussions (using the same negotiation techniques for art programs as for other working conditions) with management, who support the idea of dockyards bands, a permanent rehearsal space with storage is being organised, and two-hours of work time per week have been allocated for rehearsals.

Westech band, and a few other groups, are returning to give free concerts to raise money for the instrument fund. Community music resources and personnel are being usefully exploited to provide sheet music and help with arrangements for one of the most diverse line-ups of any big band ever established.

Meanwhile W.N.D. management is sweating over a hefty list of instruments to be purchased and it looks like the big band will be ready to play on the deck of a destroyer by the end of the year.

Gillian Harrison – Music Officer – Footscray.
(W.N.D Arts and Education Committee
Arts and Working Life Community Arts Music
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