If you’re 16 years of age or older and can play a brass, woodwind or percussion instrument, there might be a place for you in the Church Lads Brigade (CLB) regimental band.
Those willing to march and learn to play various styles of music could end up performing for royalty, as members of the band have done since it was formed almost 120 years ago.
The flagship of the CLB, the band also performs at brigade parades, church services and numerous community events.
It joins the Royal Newfoundland Regiment band on special occasions and performs at Government House as well as at the Royal St. John’s Regatta.
There are about 30 active band members, and many have been with the band for decades.
Some have been active for more than half a century, including the band’s music director, 85-year-old Maj. Walter Learning.
While all seniors in the band continue to make a contribution and are enthusiastic about mentoring younger musicians, some aren’t physically able to march on parade.
A campaign is now underway to attract new members, says Bruce Tilley, who is helping the CLB with several initiatives.
“We have a wonderful dedicated regimental band that’s been around since 1892, but a lot of our members are now aging,” Tilley said.
“About 10 or a dozen are over 70 and some are in their 80s.”
The recruitment drive will target musicians who are active in school and community bands as well as students with Memorial University’s School of Music.
Bandmaster Lt. Albertine Bethel says new members must enjoy playing in a band and must commit to regular practices.
It’s preferred that musicians have their own instruments, she added.
Uniforms are provided.
Joining the band is a big commitment, but it’s also an opportunity to learn new techniques and skills, Bethel said.
“It’s about working to get to that wow factor when all the sections get together and suddenly you click. Then, you want to do more.”
“We have a wonderful dedicated regimental band that’s been around since 1892, but a lot of our members are now aging.” - Bruce Tilley
And there are other benefits as well, Bethel said.
“There is more to it than the music. We’re like a family and there’s certainly a social side to it as well.”
CLB Col. Adrian Heffernan is also helping with the recruitment drive.
Heffernan is optimistic that new recruits will bring their passion for the community and the kind of dedication that has kept the band going for well over a century.
“There may be other bands out there that are better than us musically, but they can’t outplay us because our music comes from the heart,” Heffernan says.
Anyone interested in joining the band can call (709) 738-3493.