We all heard this command at least once in our lifetime, either because you are at a parade, work in the military or just had the pleasure to happen in a place where a parade is being held.
Everyone loves to see the spic and span uniforms held with dignity, pride and loyalty and the precision by which the musicians play while marching. Obviously, this is something that in Malta you can only watch the AFM band, by the Police Band and by some wind bands during special occasions. Really and truly I am not interested in marching capabilities of our wind bands and their musicians, but my main focus today is the uniform itself.
When I was a little boy I used to go at St. Joseph Band Club of Hamrun, since my dad was a vivid supporter, and I always got fascinated by the photographs of the musicians wearing a white uniform and everyone looked so smart and well organized. The photos were from the 1940s if I well recall. I also recall that I used to see a 1980s photo and the musicians wore different colored pants and it looked really amateurish and horrible.
When I started playing with the wind band in Naxxar, back in 1994, I felt honoured wearing the black trousers, white shirt, black shoes, societies ornaments and the ravjula (to show I was a young musician, you wouldn’t wear a cap but they would make you wear a ravjula… which was quite a let down as it was girlish) but never the less I felt proud and part of something.
Lately, we have been hearing all sort of things regarding uniforms and changes and everything. I am no fashion guru by any means, but I would like to suggest some things of my own:
- A uniform is always a uniform and every musician should stick to it.
- The use of the cap should only be used during the feast day, and when a statue of a saint or any religious figure is being paraded during the activity with the marching band.
- The cap should never be used during concerts, it just doesn’t help.
- If the society has his own tie, scarf, and any other wearable items, this should be the official attire. Now, if it is winter, a black suit jacket should do the trick.
- I cannot understand, why we should ditch our tie to a bow tie when playing in church and theatres. The tie is what identifies us from one band to another, so we should be proud of that logo we have imprinted on it.
- As regards to women, I agree that a tie is not really a great thing to wear, so lately we are resolving it with a black dress. The problem here is that there is no uniformity on the length, type, style etc. etc. I would consider having some kind of accessory to match the male uniform.
- If we are to ditch the traditional white shirt and black trousers to get rid of the tie and cap in the humid summer days during the week, I like the polo shirt idea some band clubs are introducing. The only problem with that is obviously the “bandisti barranin” which vary from one occasion to another.
- Playing in sandals is a no go unless it is medically prescripted.
- Socks. Please no WHITE socks. Black is the colour of the socks.
- All Black SHOES, not slippers, not sandals, or any black with a white based kind of shoes.
- Last but definitely not least, the traditional morning march. I know we are all color coded and everything, but please stick to a white shirt and if you want to use your band color, use it for the logo or whatever message you want to put on the damn t-shirt.
- Committee members, if you would like to have your musicians all suited up like marines, you should also make sure that you are working a full suit and a tie, cause if you want to have everyone to look like pros, you should be top notch.
Although uniforms won’t dictate the musical value of the performance, it surely helps in identifying professioanlism from ameaturishness.