A marching band from Queanbeyan, Australia recently spent some time rehearsing, performing, and site seeing with the Red Deer Royals.
The Namadgi Redbacks from Karabar High School spent two days with the Royals including a performance for an audience of 300 in Great Chief Park.
In July 2006 the Royals hosted a previous group of Redbacks. This year, both bands performed in the Calgary Stampede parade.
“It’s really cool because one of the things that it shows our kids and their kids is that the whole music and marching band thing is worldwide,” said Rob Goring, Red Deer Royals band director.
Goring said the kids were intrigued to find out that they had something in common with students their age from halfway around the world.
“We did a performance at the park and both bands performed and then at the end they were on the field and it turned into a fun night,” said Goring.
Goring said the audience enjoyed the un-planned part of the evening the most. The band members were doing some of the things they had taught each other during rehearsal that day.
“This spontaneous 150 kids were on the field and playing and clapping and having fun with each other. It wasn’t part of the itinerary but it was the coolest part of the evening,” said Goring.
The two day session was established in such a way that the band members had time to do a bit of teaching and some learning as well.
“They had a chance to show something that their band does that the other band doesn’t, and vice versa,” said Goring.
Band member Ben Parker hosted two of the Australian students at his house and said one of the noticeable cultural differences regarded getting in the car.
“They thought it was weird getting in the passenger seat, because for them, that’s the drivers seat,” said Parker.
Parker said the most exciting thing about the visit was the day spent at Great Chief Park. The drum line that Parker is a part of taught the Redbacks drum line a marching cadence, which he said was special.
“We only got a microscopic view of what their life is like. When we were at the park we saw a different style of band, but we still had something in common,” said Parker.
Goring said the most important thing for this visit was the social aspect.
“That’s one of the things that we even say about the kids in our band because they come from all over Central Alberta, but yet they are like minded people,” said Goring.
Parker said the band was sad to see the Redbacks leave but that they are hoping to see them one more time at the Calgary Stampede Parade.
“There was a lot of energy and a lot of excitement from everybody,” said Parker.
On top of having the Redbacks come here to bring a bit of Australian culture, the Royals will soon be heading off to Malaysia for the world championships for marching show bands.
“Directors couldn’t think of a more exciting and positive way to strength us by being other places and demonstrating our abilities,” said Parker.
The Royals have previously taken part in these championships in places like Calgary, Germany, Italy and now Malaysia.
“We have a parade and a couple of field show performances as well as some stand still ones in front of shopping centres. The other big part is the whole cultural experience,” said Goring.
The goal of having the Royals see so many other cultures is to have them learn what they like, dislike, and don’t know about other marching band styles.
“We go to these high level performances or competitions to see bands who are better than we are and learn from them and raise the bar for ourselves,” said Goring.
After performing in the Westerner Days Parade on July 20 the band leaves for Malaysia and return August 5.
“Going to this level is an adventure and it opens their eyes to cultures and understanding that things are different in another part of the world,” said Goring.
For more information visit www.reddeerroyals.com