Noel's miracle to achieve parade status
SINCE he was 10 years old, Noel Selway has been playing the bugle at Anzac Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Noel said it was a simple move to take up the bugle.
"I was introduced to the bugle mouthpiece by my father who was a jazz trumpet player, initially as a practice instrument for the mouthpiece but I soon learnt tunes and the military calls of the day," he said.
"It was usually half an hour per day practise after school.
"One of the rules was that if you played the bugle you were also expected to learn to play the drum so you quickly became efficient in both instruments."
From an early age Noel was playing the bugle at Dawn Services and on Remembrance Day a job he still does on occasion along with an odd funeral when called upon.
The now Wondai resident was born and bred in Fairfield, Sydney were he did his chef apprenticeship in the 60s.
Noel still retains all his old bugle music and one of the tunes that has stuck with him is one called The Waltzing Bugle Boy which is a slow march written in the very early 1800s.
He has said that the playing of the bugle was a dying art.
"After I retire there will be no one to take up the instruction role.
"Most people these days who play the calls on Anzac Day or Remembrance Day use a cornet or trumpet which takes some of the authenticity out of the occasion."
Noel moved to Wondai in 2004 and he heard on the grapevine that the Wooroolin School had heard that there was a bugler in the district.
"On Anzac Day 2006, when the school band had formed for the Wondai Anzac Day parade, I went over and asked some of the ladies who looked like they were in charge if they thought they needed a hand."
Three days later he became the bandmaster and has been ever since.
"The Wooroolin State School Band appears to be the only remaining primary school bugle band left in Australia and has had been in existence since late 1958 - its first parade was the Wondai Anzac Day parade in 1959.
"The band consists of a drum corps plus the buglers and numbers at parade strength can be anything from 10 to 17, which represents about a quarter of the student population of the school."
Noel said the band practised twice a week before the bell rang and membership is voluntary.
"The music the band currently plays has its origins in the northern English countryside and the music in chief is a tune called Hark Forrard which was taken up by the boy sailors in the Royal Navy and sung as they brought in the bow lines of their warships as they left the dock.
"The Royal Marines caught the tune and their buglers made a bugle march of it.
"The drum music has a checkered career having originated as an Irish pub tune 'Lillebulero' and through various transformations came to be played as drum tune by the Brigade of Guards as their troop music."
Noel said he reminded his students that players in the British Military bands, which still have buglers, practise six hours a day, six days a week.
"The students need to know for the school band to achieve parade status as they do for Anzac Day each year with such short practise times is nothing short of miraculous," he said.
"The band is always well received and people get a shock when they see how young the band is.
"Lots of kids have passed through this band - they are part of the family - it's quite nostalgic."