Former Musical Director
Until very recently, at Warragul we were fortunate to have the services of one of the best in the land in Bruce Armstrong OAM, commonly known amongst banding circles as ‘Mr A’. Recognised for his outstanding service in 2013 with the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia.
Born in Hay NSW, Bruce spent his childhood at Bendigo in central Victoria. The Armstrong family were generally musical with the previous three generations producing singers of some renown. Mr “A” commenced his musical career as a choir boy but was given the ‘boot’ at a tender age after being caught fighting in the choir stalls. He began learning cornet with the Bendigo Citizens & Boys Band (now Strathfieldsaye) at age nine. He became a life member of that band as well as Warragul Municipal. Whilst at Bendigo he became principal trumpet player with the Bendigo Concert Orchestra and at the same time had his own 8+ piece dance band.
In 1963 he left Bendigo for Melbourne and two years of teacher training. Whilst there he played solo cornet with the Kew Citizens Band, an association which continued until 1968. He competed as a soloist, in small ensembles and in band contests for many years, with the view that competing provides feedback on performance, and is directed at improving rather than winning. Although Mr “A” has no formal qualifications, his success as a bandmaster was self evident when he took the Warragul Municipal Band right through to one of the top “A” grade bands in Australia.
Bruce arrived in Warragul in 1965 and soon established the Drum and Bugle Corps at the Warragul Technical School. Some of these players later became part of the Municipal Band. In 1968 Bruce took over the position of Bandmaster at Warragul, a position which he has held almost continuously until the end of 2014. In the beginning the band consisted of only six players but grew in quality as well as quantity and has yielded many champions under Bruce’s direction.
As musical director, Bruce spent almost every available moment working to help the band. He conducted lessons after school, band practices on Tuesday & Friday nights, as well as organising weekend play-outs, contests, competitions, workshops, music camps, musicals, music preparation, music arranging, dawn Anzac services, lodge ceremonies, rotary meetings, guest speaking and radio programmes.
He has provided many hundreds of people with a love of music, a sound basic education in its production and a lifetime of interest. The citizens of Warragul & District remain indebted to Bruce for what he has done for the Warragul Municipal Band and our community..