New initiative will open up the world of marching bands

Mayor Cllr Martin Reilly at the launch of the

Mayor Cllr Martin Reilly at the launch of the "Marching Bands Activity Sheet" at the DiverseCity Community Partnership, with, from left, Brian Dougherty, Derek Moore, Coordinator, Londonderry Bands Forum, and, from right, Gerard Deane, DiverseCity Community Partnership, and Sue Divin, Community Relations officer, Derry City Council. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

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The Coordinator of a Londonderry forum set up to support local marching bands says a new Council educational initiative will help change perceptions about band culture.

Derek Moore, Coordinator of the Londonderry Bands Forum said: “Many people see a stereotype rather than the bigger picture when they think about marching bands.”

He made the comments following the joint development of the newly published ‘Marching Bands Activity Sheet’ by the Forum and the Community Relations Team at Derry City Council.

Pitched at young people from 10 to 15 it covers topics like reactions to seeing marching bands, associations with them, instruments, history and information on parades and debates around different views on parades.

Mr Moore said: “The bands forum is happy to work with everyone to help them understand the culture better. Developments such as the musical performances by local marching bands in the All Ireland Fleadh are beginning to change perceptions – but there is need for further educational work.”

Sue Divin, Community Relations Officer with Derry City Council said: “Often people are unaware that the tradition of marching bands spans across the ‘traditional divide.’

“In the Irish tradition the Catholic temperance movement historically supported the development of marching bands culture.

“Many people may be unaware of the charity, community and cross-community work done by bands, or the regular effort of young people put in to attending music practices and developing instrumental skills.

“It comes as a surprise to some that you don’t have to be in a loyal order to be in a band or to hear that bands are actually hired in to play at parades.

“Whilst Frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte first developed fife and drum bands, locally Ireland’s oldest flute band comes from Drumahoe.”

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