When the Bega District Brass Band needs a mellow, smoky solo, they turn to Dr Jane Woolacott of Bega Veterinary Hospital in NSW, and her flugelhorn
“A flugelhorn is basically just an over-sized trumpet. It has the same valves that are pushed down in the same way to play the same notes. The big difference is that the flugelhorn has a lower, more mellow sound.
“I began playing music in the primary school band. I started off with the recorder, then the trombone and then the trumpet. I continued with the trumpet until the end of high school and then gave it all up when I went to university.
“When I moved to Bega, one of the nurses in the practice was good friends with the band master of the Bega District Brass Band. She knew I played the trumpet and suggested I go and talk to him. When I turned up at practice, he gave me a flugelhorn and it was just meant to be. I’ve grown to love the instrument and think it has much nicer sound than a trumpet.
“The band has an incredible history and has been in existence for 119 years. It’s a central part of the town and plays at all Anzac Day services and Christmas carol evenings. Christmas time is very hectic as there are six or seven different carols services.
“While certain times are very busy, we perform throughout the year. We recently played to open the Bega show and at a fundraising for Can Assist, a cancer charity.
“When I joined the band 12 years ago, I was the only female member. I was also the only person under 50. The band had about 10 members and it was struggling to survive. However, over the past seven years a lot of people have moved to the area and some of these people are very good musicians. This influx has breathed new life into the band. At present we have 23 members and are sounding better than ever.
“I play a lot of team sports and being in a band is a similar experience. You’re all in sync and working together towards a common goal. I always come out of rehearsal feeling inspired and very happy. It’s great for your mental health. After an hour of practice, I’m much more calm and relaxed. When you’re playing, you’re not thinking of anything else apart from the music—it’s almost like a meditation.
“Playing music is the perfect way to throw off the stresses of the day and, hopefully, make something beautiful.”