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    The Medan band (BBJ) is a brass band based on a Boys Home run by the Salvation Army in Medan (North Sumatra, Indonesia). I founded this band back in 1987 and it is still functioning. Currently (August 2012) there are about 24 active members. Read More

       

     

     

    Like all other Salvation Army bands around the world, BBJ performs regularly at community and church events in the city, especially at Christmas. Major concerts are difficult to organise on a limited budget. But we manage hold one every two or three years. The last one was in July 2012. Read More

    Medan Band (Brass Band Jenderal - BBJ) members take two types of music exams. They are internal exams (for band membership) and external exams (organized by the London-based Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)

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      Cleaning the instruments is something everyone takes seriously in Medan - even those in the beginners band. Read More

     

      There are currently (July 2011) 33 members in the Brass Band Jenderal (BBJ), with ages ranging from 12 to 32. Until very recently, all were current or former members of the Salvation Army boys home in Medan, Indonesia. In February 2010 we admitted our first female member after she passed the entrance test. But she has now gone to Jakarta to enter The Salvation Army's College for Officers (Pastors).
    Normally, the band practices for two hours twice a week. Thursday and Saturday evenings is set aside for the senior band. The junior band and beginners practice on Sunday afternoon. Of course, some senior band members practice more often than that. When I am in Medan, practices are also far more frequent and last much longer. Read More

     

    In November 2008, immediately after our very successful concert that month, band members began work on BBJ's (Medan band's) very own music studio. Until then, all rehearsals were held in the adjoining church, which meant that everything had to be tidied up and rearranged after each rehearsal. It also meant that if the church was being used for some other activity, band members could not practice. Read More 
     

    As you  can imagine, the band does not have much money to go on tours. However, there have been times when well-wishers have helped by donating money.  Since it was established in 1987 the band has been to Jakarta three times. There have also been two other tours. The first was to Nias island (off the west coast of Sumatra) in late November 2004, not long before a devastating earthquake hit the island. The second tour was to Malaysia/Singapore in November 2005. In July 2011 the band went to Nias for a return visit.. Read More



    BBJ
    The Boys Home
    About Medan


    BBJ

    The Medan band (BBJ) is a brass band based on a Boys Home run by the Salvation Army in Medan (North Sumatra, Indonesia). I founded this band back in 1987. Currently (August 2012), there are about 24 active members. The band consists of a mixture of current and former boys home members, with ages ranging from 12 to about 33. There is also a 17-member junior band and a beginners band about the same size. 
     
    I work in Singapore as a journalist with the Straits Times newspaper. I visit Medan at my own expense about four times a year. Each time, I stay about three days, giving the band intensive training. Sometimes well-wishers in Singapore and Australia also donate money for uniforms and second-had instruments.

    The Boys Home

    Here is a picture of the front of the Salvation Army Boys Home facing the street. It is located at the end of a small lorong (lane) in the Glugor district of Medan:

     

    As you can see, the Panti Asuhan Putra William Booth (William Booth Home for Boys) is an unimposing building. Inside, it has none of the creature comforts we take for granted in the West, or even in neighbouring Singapore (the part I hate most is having to take a shower by throwing a bucket of cold water over my head!).  By Indonesian standards, though, the building is adequate. Life may be  hard for the boys, but  the Home has dedicated staff, and over the years I have found it to be a friendly place where friendships forged among the boys last well into adult life.

     Unemployment is a problem. 
    A more serious problem is the lack of employment opportunities in Medan for the boys once they turn 18 - the age at which they have to leave the Home. Unemployment is a problem all over Indonesia, of course, but these boys find it especially difficult because they have few of the family and organisational "connections" that many other Indonesians use to get a job. Yet I know they are intelligent, honest and hardworking (I have seen this myself when training band members). If any Indonesian businessman or government official happens to visit this page of my website, I have an important message for them: Tolong berikanlah pekerjaan kepada anak-anak Panti Asuhan William Booth. Mereka semua jujur dan tidak malas. Saya menjaminnya!

     About Medan

    Medan, a city of about 2.5 million people, is the capital of the Indonesian province of North Sumatra. The city does not get good write-ups in most tourist guide books, probably because until very recently it lacked good accommodation for tourists. It also lacked the nightlife and glitzy skyscrapers of other cities, including Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. Being situated not far from the equator, Medan has a hot and sticky tropical climate.The tourists who do arrive in Medan rarely miss the chance to visit the beautiful Lake Toba, an ancient volcanic lake about three hours drive from the city. The people of North Sumatra are justifiably proud of this lake, which is truly a sight to behold. It is 100 km long and 30 km wide with enormous cliffs and an island right smack in the middle. The gigantic volcanic eruption that resulted in the formation of the lake is believed to have taken place about 75,000 years ago.

     Medan is known for its large number of churches 
     
    The first inhabitants of Medan came from the Batak Karo community, and even today the descendents of the various Batak tribes still dominate the city, as they do the area around Lake Toba. Most Bataks are Christians, and the city is known for the large number of churches - an unusual sight in predominantly Muslim Indonesia. However, there are also a number of imposing mosques, including the so-called Great Mosque.  About half of the boys in the Medan Boys Home (and therefore about half of the band members) are Bataks. Most of the others come from Nias, an island off the west coast of North Sumatra.

    Medan did not enjoy much development until the 1860s, when Dutch colonialists began clearing land in the area for tobacco plantations. Many buildings in the city still retain their Dutch flavour, including the old City Hall and the Post Office. The main seaport is Belawan, about 20 km to the north, while the modest international airport is located close to the centre of the city.

    Today, Medan is the marketing and distribution centre for an extensive agricultural area containing great tobacco, rubber, and palm oil estates. Coffee and tea are also grown in the vicinity. Industries include the production of machinery and tiles, as well as automobile assembly. The various ethnic and religious groups have long lived in harmony. However, in 1994, the city was the scene of labour riots that were rooted in long-standing tensions between ethnic Chinese business owners and indigenous workers. Even this did not stop band practice. But that is another story!

    To see lots of pictures of band members and life in the Medan Boys Home, go to the BBJ Photo Album.

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