Dr Norman Swan (The Health Report, ABC Radio National) states that there are a number of things that can stave off the onset of dementia: give up smoking, eat well, avoid diabetes or control it, learn a new language or an instrument. And there is no more joyous thing than playing an instrument with other people.
The Kyneton Street Band believes that everyone can learn how to play a marimba. They are the only walking marimba band in the world (so they believe). Marimbas, think a large xylophone, can be made with household items like plastic piping, plastic bags and Blu Tac.
Andy Rigby, Musical Director, first got interested in marimbas in Africa in the 1980s. The sound is percussive and anyone can learn how to play. He makes the marimbas in his workshop, and they come in all sizes: small on frames that can be worn, larger, on pram chassis, that can be pushed. The band is rounded out with a brass section: saxophone, trumpet and trombone. The music is always upbeat and contagious.
The Kyneton Street Band is made up of a moving feast of members; some regular attendees at all the performances and rehearsals, some attend just for the parades and gigs. All are welcome. And all ages. The youngest member, Lillian, 7 plays a tuba set on a stool in rehearsals, and on a walking buggy, both held by her father Liam. Other members of the Band are at high school, in work and retired. It is one of the few places where many generations mix, and all musical skill levels. The group is all about fun.
So stave off dementia, learn to play an instrument, play a marimba. If you are in or around Kyneton they would love to hear from you.