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Music makes the world go round

Lt Col Wayne Hopla


Back in November 2022, I was privileged to be invited to Ethiopia to deliver musical support to their National Defence Force Band (ENDFB), preparing them for the annual Remembrance Day Service at the Military Cemetery, Addis Ababa. In my subsequent post-exercise report, I proposed that a small delegation should consider visiting UK to seek a better understanding of our comprehensive musical training programmes, to ascertain what The Royal Corps of Army Music could offer their organisation. This suggestion was taken onboard, with a team headed up by Maj Gen Dega (Head of Development), key members of ENDFB, assistant DA and myself, acting as UK Liaison Officer.


Back in November 2022, I was privileged to be invited to Ethiopia to deliver musical support to their National Defence Force Band (ENDFB), preparing them for the annual Remembrance Day Service at the Military Cemetery, Addis Ababa. In my subsequent post-exercise report, I proposed that a small delegation should consider visiting UK to seek a better understanding of our comprehensive musical training programmes, to ascertain what The Royal Corps of Army Music could offer their organisation. This suggestion was taken onboard, with a team headed up by Maj Gen Dega (Head of Development), key members of ENDFB, assistant DA and myself, acting as UK Liaison Officer.


Day 1 saw the Delegation watching The Kings Guard mounting on Buckingham Palace forecourt, followed by an invitation to the final rehearsal of the Military Musical Spectacular on Horseguards. The sight and sound of the Massed Bands playing and marching to Sir William Walton (not to mention the strains of Robbie Williams, Rolling Stones and Beatles) was truly impressive and amazing….


Early morning at the Palace before the crowds started to appear for Guard mount


The following day saw weather more like we would expect in UK…..but at least we would be indoors! The plan for day 2 was to visit The Tower of London but before, a walk around RHQ was arranged, meeting Colonel John who give a short presentation on the history of the Regiment. It was here where I was somewhat surprised, being presented with a beautiful Ethiopian plaque. Following coffee, it was off to view the magnificent Crown Jewels, walk around the stunning towers before returning to our hotel to pack….for a very early morning start.


Receiving a presentation from Maj Gen Dega


The main thrust of the visit was to see our musical training first-hand, so the third day found us at Minley Manor, Camberley – Headquarters of Army Music. It is here where we train our conductors, which currently include several overseas students….proving very interesting to the delegation. Until very recently, the home of Army Music was Kneller Hall, Twickenham…where prize boards hung with famous (and not so famous!) names from the past.

Following a detailing briefing of what the conductors course can offer, we were walked around the new site and shown its outstanding facilities by the Chief Instructor:


This takes me back………………


Minley Manor with Maj Jon Milne (Chief Instructor)


Leaving Minley Manor, next was a visit to the Rifles Band, stationed at Worthy Down. We were met on arrival with the sounding of Bugle Fanfare for Maj Gen Dega, before being escorted around the complex and listening to a Brass Ensemble rehearsal. The delegation were delighted to be able to talk to the musicians and discuss what serving within a Band outside London is like. It was a very impressive stop on our journey, this being our final leg down to Portsmouth.


Worthy Down Memorial, pictured with Bandmaster & Bugle Major (Rifles Band)


The 4th and final day of our visit was to The Musical Training Wing in Portsmouth, where we train musicians to join our Regular Army Bands. Following an insight to what the course can offer overseas personnel, there was a tour of the Naval Base before ending the morning listening to the Training Band rehearsing. With encouragement from his peers, Capt Yoseph was invited to conduct Colonel Bogey, which went down very well with the delegation and musicians alike!


Captain Yoseph in full flow


There was time for one last photo outside the Training Wing, before heading back to the hotel to pack for the long journey home. This however is just the start of the PWRR/ENDFB collaboration, as we are sending 5 members of the PWRR Band to Ethiopia to assist with their training in November…until then, behina huni.


The end of tour photo!


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