FROM the moment his father joined Horsham City Pipe Band many years ago, Horsham’s Garry Minne knew he wanted to do the same.
What he might not have known was just how long his association would continue, and how pipe band music would become the soundtrack to his and his family’s lives.
Mr Minne notched five decades with the band this year. To make the presentation of his 50-year service badge even more special, his wife Elizabeth received a club life membership on the same night.
The pipe band formed in 1923 to promote the love of pipe band music and highland dress in the Wimmera.
The band’s unmistakable sound has been an integral part of annual commemorations in Horsham, including Anzac Day services.
Mr Minne plays the snare drum, and said he always knew it was the instrument for him when he joined the band in his early teens.
“You couldn’t join before you were 14 in those days. As soon as I was old enough, I joined,” he said.
“I first started playing drums at school in Horsham. There was two of us there.
“It was fairly basic. It was a long time before I advanced to being able to read and write music.”
Mr Minne has been writing some of the pipe band’s songs for the past 20 years.
In 2015, he won the Peter Clohesy Memorial Shield for his dedication to highland drumming – one of Pipe Bands Victoria’s highest honours.
Mr Minne said it took a long time to perfect his craft.
“It’s a matter of practice. You should practice daily to improve,” he said.
“Those who don’t, don’t last.
“Before you can play anything you’ve got to be able to hit a beat, so we get people going by just ‘tap, tap, tap, tap’.
“After a while there are certain tunes that we introduce them to.”
It’s a matter of practice. You should practice daily to improve. Those who don’t, don’t last.Garry Minne
Mr Minne keeps his skills up by using a practice pad.
“If you had to play an actual drum in your house, it would drive you completely mad,” he said.
Mr Minne’s favourite tunes to play include hornpipes and jigs.
His most memorable performance came in 2000, when Australia hosted the Olympic Games.
“The playout for the Olympics was really good. The Olympic committee did it in every town the torch stopped, usually of an evening,” he said.
“I’ve also played in the tattoos at Ballarat and at Maryborough.
“It’s like the tattoos you see on TV, but a smaller version. It’s pretty good.
“The band has taken us to places we had never been to. We’ve been to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo three times.
“We’ve also been to the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Our son Shaun and daughter Katherine played at them.”
Shaun and Katherine both learned to play drums; Shaun still plays.
“There was a bit of pushing from me, but Shaun just took to it,” Mr Minne said.
“He is just so good. When he joined the bank, Katherine said, ‘Well I might as well join too’.”
Mrs Minne said seeing her family play in front of 40,000 people at the championships was amazing.
“The greatest thing that we've had with the pipe band is the trips to Scotland with the kids,” she said.
“The things we’ve done as a family are just great.”
The Minne’s last trip to Scotland was in 2013, and they hope to return again some day.
They also hope more people – particularly young people – will become consider becoming part of the Horsham City Pipe Band, to ensure it continues for many years to come.
“We had a come and try day a few weeks ago,” Mrs Minne said.
“But kids don’t seem interested in that sort of thing these days. They’re too busy on their phones.
“They are taught music in school, but it’s really hard trying to get people interested.”
Mrs Minne said the pipe band was a great family organisation that had a lot to offer.
She said her family had made lasting friendships with people in Horsham, the Wimmera and around the world.
Mrs Minne’s involvement with the pipe band spans more than 20 years. Even so, she said life membership came as a shock.
“I’d had a lot to do with the band since I met Garry, and with the kids. We used to run balls and Oaks Day lunches,” she said.
“I’ve been the president and secretary of the ladies committee, and now I’m the secretary of the main committee.
“The social aspect is what we love best.
“Running the Oaks Day lunches were just so much fun. They were a lot of work, but we made a lot of money over the years.
“We do minor fundraisers now, but we don’t have as many people because a lot of them are older and we don’t have a big committee. But we still keep plugging on.”
And it’s that sort of spirit the Minnes are applying to their next goal.
“Our band is hoping to compete at the Australian Championships in Maryborough in 2020,” Mr Minne said.
“We’ve got people from Mount Gambier and Naracoorte who are going to play with us as well.
“It’s a great goal to aim for. We don’t have any young players, and virtually no drummers, and you need them to compete.
“So we’ll all join together in one band and have a go.”
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