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Mornington Salvos strike a chord with local musicians

Mornington Salvos strike a chord with local musicians

Mornington Salvos strike a chord with local musicians

24 November 2017

David Parker conducts the Mornington Peninsula Salvos' Swing it Again Big Band.

By Jessica Morris

The Salvation Army is known for its brass-banding culture, but on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula its become known for something with a little more swing.

The Swing It Again Big Band is an auspice arrangement between Mornington Peninsula Salvation Army, Rosebud Secondary College and the Salvos Community Music Access Program. 

Led by David Parker, a local Salvo and music teacher, the key components of the band are music and connection, which is why their relationship with The Salvation Army is important.

“Most of these musicians would never enter a church if it wasn’t to attend regular practices and perform at events at Mornington Salvos,” he said.

“The band has embraced the value of the Mornington Salvos mission activities within the community, and is keen to keep supporting this work through performing at various corps events.” 

Officially, the Swing It Again Big Band formed 18 months ago. Now a non-profit, they are known for playing some classic 40s jazz numbers around town at the Salvos charity gigs and Christmas events.

Between the interaction with local musicians and the Salvos, the big band sounds like a match made in heaven. But look beyond the polished exterior, and you realise the personal connection between the band, school and their local corps goes a lot deeper.

Twenty-two years deeper in fact. Because it was the mid 1990s when the band originally came together as members of the school ensemble and struck up their relationship with Rosebud Corps.

“My daughter went through Rosebud Secondary when I was teaching music. In the mid-90s, the cohort of players she belonged to included five members from Rosebud Salvation Army families. The school band often played at corps youth events, concerts and Christmas activities,” David said.

These would have remained well-endeared memories had it not been for David’s daughter Sarah, who arranged a reunion 18 months ago in honour of her father.

Much to David’s surprise, 150 former students, parents, teachers and band members turned up, blew the dust off their instruments, and rehashed some old tunes in honour of their favourite music teacher.

It went so well they decided to make something of it, and that’s how Swing It Again was borne.

“A few of them had hardly touched their instruments for 10 to 12 years,” laughs David.

“I said we should do it again, thinking we’d rehearse and do a gig or two. But it’s become an ongoing open community group.”

With members ranging in age from 15 to 66, you could say that Swing It Again embraces the best of its past and the future, consisting of old students and their families, as well as current students at Rosebud Secondary College.

In this way it has become a powerful ministry in the Mornington Peninsula community; reconnecting old friends, funding community projects (including a generator for their local CFA) and allowing local Salvos to do life with folks who would otherwise never enter the church.

Could this model be replicated? Well, David isn’t pegging his community band to be the next Just Brass. But given the right long-term relationships and a passion for music, it may just be what other corps are looking for to re-engage their community.

“Informal partnering arrangements with musical or performing entities out there in the community has potential for building connection as a church,” David said.

“The less insular we can be, and the more community focused, the more we’re going to be able to build meaningful relationships and connections to our community.”

 

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