The West

Hectic schedule has band on the march
Natalea Erskine, centre, with fellow Royal Australian Navy band members. Picture: Michael Wilson

For the men and women of the Royal Australian Navy band's WA detachment, providing the musical backing to Anzac Day means keeping a punishing schedule.

Trumpeters and buglers head to all parts of the city for numerous dawn services, while the band itself sets the pace for the morning march through Perth.

Chief Petty Officer Natalea Erskine said it was the biggest day of the year for the band.

"It's definitely the most important one, as far as giving something back to the Diggers, sailors and airmen that gave so much," CPO Erskine said.

"It means a lot to the guys here, the same with Remembrance Day and Vietnam Veterans Day."

Apart from CPO Erskine, the band members are all navy reservists and do basic training at HMAS Cerberus in Westernport, Victoria.

They must fit a regular schedule of rehearsals and performances around their full-time jobs.

"Learning how to march with an instrument can be a particular challenge if you haven't done it before," CPO Erskine said.

In addition to their ceremonial duties, band members provide entertainment at other military functions, with a set list stretching from big band classics all the way through to modern hits.

"The camaraderie in our group is pretty unique," clarinettist and vocalist Kristy Hicks said. "It's something we all cherish - we wouldn't all be here into our 40s if we didn't enjoy it."

She said playing at the International Fleet Review in Sydney Harbour in October was a particular highlight of her time with the band.

The navy band is made up of two full-time detachments and four part-time detachments across Australia.

The West Australian

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