Stawell Brass Band looks to boost numbers

STAWELL - Stawell City Brass Band is currently offering scholarships to young musicians seeking to learn new instruments.

The band committee approached several businesses and service clubs throughout Stawell, outlining a proposal to try and boost membership. The proposal was to conduct free tuition for learners, giving young people who may not have had an opportunity to learn an instrument in the past, the opportunity to do so now.

The band was delighted to receive $1000 from the Lions Club of Stawell and $150 from the Stawell RSL Sub Branch, which allowed the organisation to get the program up and running.

Committee member Helga Saunders said the program had been running for around four weeks, with five learners taking part.

"These five students have all won scholarships with the Stawell Brass Band to get them started in the program," Mrs Saunders said.

"They have all been going very well under the tuition of Amelia Kingston and the leadership of Kate Riedl."

Stawell Brass Band still has some scholarships available for learners. Any students who are interested can contact Helga Saunders on 0408 856 602.

Mrs Saunders said the Stawell Brass Band, like all Wimmera Brass Bands, had been experiencing a steep member decline and the program was initiated to ensure more young people had the opportunity to become involved.

"We are proud of our band and its achievements that have provided a fantastic community service for the last 150 years," she said.

"We have brought music to many people and always encouraged young and not so young people to take up the challenge of learning to play an instrument. Because we have offered free tuition for learners and minimal instrument hire fees, youngsters who may never have had a musical opportunity were able to have one with us."

Mrs Saunders said in recent years, the band had received support from educational institutions via their music programs, which in the past has been quite strong.

An example of this was, in the 1990s, Stawell Secondary College was helpful in encouraging many young players to join the band.

Mrs Saunders warned that prior to the scholarship program being launched, the band had no learners and with an ageing existing membership, the band faced a bleak future.

"In an attempt to remedy this situation, we are offering lessons to pupils attending local schools, with an understanding that pupils join the Brass Band once they are able to play," she said.

"We see this as a win-win situation for all involved. The Brass Band will gain new players, thus ensuring its survival. Sponsors will connect with and support their community, gaining recognition via press releases and other publicity associated with the Brass Band.

"Learners will gain musical know how, leading to self-esteem, not only because of gaining new knowledge, but also by being chosen for sponsorship by a worthy organisation.

"The band recognises that music is so important to young minds, helping them in other areas of life as their confidence and self esteem continues to grow."

Stawell City Brass Band maintains a busy schedule throughout the Christmas period, playing at anywhere between 10 and 15 functions. Learners through the program will be able to participate in the play-outs to various degrees according to Mrs Saunders, further assisting in boosting their confidence.

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