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More than Just Brass at Orange Corps

Major Colin Young teaches a Just Brass student.




Restarting the Just Brass program at Orange Corps (NSW) has opened doors to new family connections.


Brass music is in Corps Officer Major Colin Young’s blood. “I’ve been teaching young people to play brass instruments since I was 15 years old,” he says. Without wanting to give away his age, that’s more than 40 years!


Orange Corps had to close its popular Just Brass program due to COVID-19 restrictions. Majors Colin and Kate Young were prayerful and considerate about when and how to restart it.


“The families that had been involved had moved on,” Colin said. “We wanted to open it up but to keep numbers small so that we could be intentional and care for whole families.”


Just Brass programs in The Salvation Army usually get involved directly with schools. At Orange, while all schools have been approached, Just Brass is an invitational program. Each student receives individual lessons, leading up to proficiency enough to join a band.

Major Colin Young accompanies a student on the trombone during a lesson.

“Everything will lead to the students joining the corps band,” says Colin. “Advancement comes when they home-practice and where they are involved with an ensemble that is better than them.”


Orange Corps has a strong band and used to be heavily involved in a community Brass Celebration weekend, but recently, the event has stopped. Instead of being disappointed about the loss of an outreach opportunity, Colin and Kate decided to step into the gap and organised for a Sydney band to visit the corps on the weekend that used to be set aside in the community for the Brass Celebration.


“We have taken up the challenge to use that weekend and continue to provide a band weekend,” Colin said. “We put the word out and invited people to a band concert at the corps. We were very fortunate that we got some television coverage of the Just Brass program, and they mentioned the concert as well.”


Blacktown Corps Band visit

On 9-10 March, the Blacktown Corps Band visited Orange Corps, and their concerts filled the hall. More than 3000 people also watched the Facebook Live event.


The visit from Sydney’s Blacktown Band was a popular community event in Orange.

The Youngs are planning more band events, which will be an outreach to the community and an encouragement to Just Brass participants to see talented musicians they can aspire to.


“Currently, we have about seven young people involved in Just Brass,” says Colin. “We are hoping it will grow but we also want to keep numbers small so that we can be really intentional in supporting our families.”


One of the families involved has two children learning instruments and also one parent – what a joyous noise when they are all practising at home! For Colin, Brass is not an outdated tradition in The Salvation Army but a vibrant means of connection.


“I have repeatedly tried to not get involved with brass ministry, but I just can’t escape it! Everywhere I go, I’ve ended up getting involved in brass ministry. It’s in my blood!”


Click on the slideshow below for more photos of the Blacktown Corps Band visit to Orange:




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