Published on Tuesday, 14 December 2010 17:19
Written by Bruce Gale
On December 4, 2010, 25-year-old BBJ band trainer Imanta Karosekali returned from a two-month visit to the Salvation Army William Booth Boys Home in Bali. He was there to train the William Booth Band (WBB), which had been established with instruments donated by the Mission Bali Advisory Action Group led by Norman Blakey. Mr Blakey is a member of the Salvation Army's Adelaide Congress Hall Band (ACH). In sending a band trainer to Bali, BBJ was responding to an appeal by Mr Blakey for someone to teach the band who could speak Indonesian. I was not able to go myself, so I asked Imanta and he readily agreed.
Imanta plays solo cornet in BBJ, and is a former leader of BBJ's junior band. Holding a grade five ABRSM piano certificate, Imanta makes a modest living teaching elementary piano and computer skills in Medan to those who cannot afford the high prices charged by local music and computer schools.
Imanta left Medan for Bali on Oct 3. On his return, BBJ members listened eagerly to his stories about his experiences. We all laughed as he described how Bali band members sat behind desks holding their instruments "like in school" instead of using the standard brass band formation. Someone had also apparently told the boys that they needed to go for long jogs before settling down (tired) to practice.
Obviously, there was a lot to teach!
They were eager to learn.
What was very clear right from the start, Imanta said, was that the boys were eager to learn. But they knew very little, and he had to teach them from scratch - embouchure formation, how to read music, etc. The jogging was scrapped. But the daily lessons were long and unrelenting.
I telephoned Imanta from Singapore several times and listened as he held up his handphone and the Bali band struggled to play Deep Harmony - a simple tune most beginning bandsmen in the Salvation Army are taught. It reminded me of the early days in Medan, way back in 1987, when I first began teaching brass to a similarly eager crop of young boys.
"I made them suffer", he joked.
Imanta's experience in Medan stood him in good stead when he had to overcome various discipline problems. "Saya siksa mereka" (I made them suffer), he joked when I asked him how he managed. As we both knew, he was quoting me and my approach to teaching. Hard work is often necessary to get a band going. But it needs to be tempered with a strong dose of humour to make the long hours bearable for all involved.
In teaching the boys, Imanta received a lot of help from Reindra, the son of a local businessman who has long taken an interest in the boys. Reindra studied music under Imanta along with the rest, but he also had an important part to play in getting things organised.
BBJ welcomes this latest addition to the Salvation Army's brass band fraternity.
WBB's first public performance took place at the Salvation Army's Denpasar corps II (church) on November 21, when the band played Deep Harmony. It is a simple tune, but it had an enormous effect on the congregation, which saw for the first time that creating a band was really possible. The following week the new band played an arrangement of "The Wondrous Cross" by William Himes. It is a grade one piece published in the Salvation Army's Instrumental Ensemble series. Before Imanta left the band could play six tunes, including "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
Now that the William Booth Band (WBB) has been established in Bali, the Salvation Army has four brass bands in Indonesia. The most advanced musically is BBJ. This is followed by Jakarta (staffed largely by former BBJ members at number 2 corps) . There is also a very small band in Palu (Central Sulawesi). BBJ welcomes this latest addition to the Salvation Army' band fraternity.
For pictures of the Bali Band (WBB), go to the BBJ gallery section of this website. Click here.
Further information about WBB, please email Norman Blakey in Adelaide at the following address: