It was the trip of a lifetime for members of The Salvation Army National Youth Band in our territory, with a tour of the US which included taking part in the famous New Year’s Day parade in LA.
The 35-strong National Youth Band (NYB) group gathered together on Boxing Day to begin their tour of the United States. We were one of eight territorial youth bands invited to Los Angeles, to participate in a music school and take part in the centenary Salvation Army marching band at the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Los Angeles. The eight territorial youth bands came from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, the four USA territories, the United Kingdom and us from the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa territory.
The Three Es
Whenever the NYB travels, our vision and purpose remains the same: that is, the three big Es—we want to entertain, encourage and, above all else, evangelise.
We work hard throughout the year to present a repertoire of music that entertains and engages our audience. We use musical ministry to encourage people to reflect on Jesus and their faith journey. We also always aim to be an encouraging and uplifting group of people, whether with each other as band members, or with people we meet on tour.
Above all else, at the forefront of our minds, is that we want to spread the message of Jesus and his love. The band spends time in prayer, asking that God would accept our offering and use it to bring someone that hears our message into his kingdom.
Once in a Lifetime
With these three Es in mind, lots of hard work done behind the scenes and our bags packed, we hopped on the plane to Los Angeles. The next 12 days were a wild ride, starting when we performed in Band Fest as part of a 350-strong band, playing four numbers on a college football field in front of 10,000 people.
Then on New Year’s Day, after four hours of marching practise, we joined the 380-member Salvation Army Centenary band, marching for the one hundredth time in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Watched by millions of people, we were part of spreading the message of Jesus through the well-known tunes ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘This Is My [Our] Story’. It was an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience for the NYB members.
Band Camp and Disney!
At the music school camp, we were split into eight different bands, and had the opportunity to sit under the leadership of the conductors from the seven other territorial youth bands—with NYB bandmaster Duncan Horton also conducting his own camp band. A week of rehearsals culminated in a concert with all eight bands, performing pieces we had worked on over the week.
Another amazing opportunity for those of us at the music camp, was to be the marching band for the 3pm parade through the main street of Disneyland! Again, the massed marching band from the camp of around 300 people played ‘Amazing Grace’—once more proclaiming the message of Jesus to Disneyland punters. This too, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all the NYB members.
The music school also brought with it the pleasure of meeting and interacting with young Salvationists from around the world. It is a real blessing to share with the international Salvation Army a love of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus and music with other young Salvationists.
A Lasting Impact
Once the music school camp concluded, we travelled with the Australia Territorial Youth Band to San Diego, where we combined for an outdoor concert ministry and an evening concert. The NYB also had the privilege of assisting in leading worship at two corps—San Gabriel in Los Angeles, and El Cajon in San Diego.
Throughout the tour, we also had combined concerts with the Australian and UK Territorial Youth Bands and our own NYB rehearsals, as well as sightseeing to Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood and a day at Disneyland. During free time, there were some friendly games of rugby, football and time spent getting to know our new international friends.
The general comment from NYB members when summarising the trip is that it will have a lasting impact on our lives forever. The friendships we’ve made, the experiences we’ve had, but most importantly the opportunity we have had to share the gospel of Jesus, will be memories we will look back on fondly—both individually and as a band, for many years to come.
The NYB would like to thank the territory for its support of us, both leading up to the trip and while we were away. For your prayer support, practical support, kind messages and for cheering us on while we were overseas, a sincere and heartfelt thanks from all on the touring party.