On the morning of 25 April 2020, thousands of professional and amateur musicians across the nation stood in their driveways and on their balconies sounding the Last Post to commemorate Anzac Day, as Australia remained in lockdown.
Judging by the many posts appearing on social media the results were varied, but they all had one essential element. They were all immensely heartfelt renditions.
Every person choosing to engage in this civic action today did so from a sense of pride and respect. For our professional colleagues and accomplished amateurs it was a pleasure to perform. For others it was terrifying. Only when you sound the Last Post do you truly get a sense of what a daunting experience it can be. So exposed. So truly alone.
I remember the nerves in my early days of playing as a member of Bondi Brass. Noticing my jitters, the incomparable Cliff Goodchild took me aside and said, ‘Pat, it’s not about you. Somewhere in that crowd there’s a mother who’s lost a son, or a widow who’s lost a husband. They don’t give a damn if you crack a note. Just play!’ It all seemed so much easier after that.
So today they played. This morning the suburbs and towns across Australia rang with the sound of bugles, trumpets, trombones, and tubas. There were also flutes, and saxophones, and strings, and all manner of musical instruments as Australia’s musicians, amateur and pro, young and old, seasoned and just starting out, united to ensure this national day of commemoration did not pass unacknowledged. Unremembered. Unsounded.
They did it because this is what musicians do. As the late, great, Richard Gill used to say, the arts are the lifeblood of this country, and music is at the heart of the arts. Without music no culture can call itself complete.
We see it, time and again, be it in crisis or disaster, in victory and success, in celebration or in mourning. Whatever the occasion, whatever the mood, music enhances it. Music takes it to another level. Music transcends. Who, for example, remembers the flowers on the tables at a wedding? It’s a sure bet though, that the music performed live at the service is not forgotten.
Time and again, our musicians are the ones seen stepping up to give of their time and skills to make that special occasion memorable. Invariably, their efforts are undervalued. Often, they perform for free.
Today, Australia’s musicians showed just how important they are to our culture. But this didn’t just happen. As the many amateurs who sounded the Last Post for the first time today will tell you, to obtain the flawless performances we hear on TV from the armed service personnel or professional players, takes years of committed practice. And behind every one of today’s players lies a dedicated music teacher guiding them through the many long years of mastering their instrument.
Let’s hope, in these trying economic times of COVID-19, with so many professional musicians and music teachers doing it tough, while acknowledging and celebrating the efforts of our musicians today, they are remembered tomorrow.
Lest we forget.
ASBOF General Manger and flugel horn player with Bondi Brass
For one of the best soundings of the Last Post you are likely to hear, listen to Paul Goodchild (ASBOF Director, Associate Principal Trumpet SSO)
Paul Goodchild (SSO) LAST POST
And for an example of the tireless work community musicians do for our society take a moment to reflect with Bondi Brass
Bondi Brass ABIDE WITH ME