an institution, place, or person strongly maintaining particular principles, attitudes, or activities.
Mansor must have chosen “The Bastion” as the title of his piece as he thought of the members of the Pasukan Pancaragam (I am not sure what it was called in English: Brass Band, Marching Band or Military Band?) as hard core individuals who remained steadfast in the Band until their last year in school. I was one of them. Over the years, many dropped out from the Band. Maybe they could not withstand the frequency of the practice sessions. Other societies had their sessions fortnightly but we had band practice weekly or even twice weekly as certain events grew near. Perhaps some withdrew after finally accepting that they had no musical talent whatsoever.
The Band must have provided the only opportunity for students in STAR to receive musical training albeit in the most rudimentary manner. Being pragmatic, our advisors did not bother with teaching the members how to read proper musical scores in the form of “taugeh” notes as we called them. For example, for Inilah Barisan Kita, the notes would look like this:
E E A B A B C A A A A G F E E E B A B Ď C B Ě Ě Ě B C B A
(you just have to work out the duration and pauses yourself based on your knowledge of the tune)
Musical instruction was imparted in “hand me down” fashion. The seniors, to the best of their ability, would teach the juniors to play modern musical instruments such as the trumpet, cornet, tuba, trombone, clarinet and saxophone. If producing tuneful sounds was not achievable, acting ability in playing the instruments would be quite sufficient.
The most desired instrument would be the side drums. The drummers would be in the front line, giving them the highest profile. Looking cool was part of the job description and usually a pair of Raybans helped to achieve the desired effect. The drummers would invariably be students in the higher forms due to the prestige such a position would accord.
As I already had some formal musical training, I decided to forgo the glamour and stuck to the saxophone, which together with the trumpets and cornets (led by Yan from ’87 who had been playing from primary school) served as the musical backbone of the Band. Maybe also because the informal “Orang Kuat Sax” title given to the lead saxophonist had a nice ring to it.
(photo courtesy of Yan ’87)
I don’t want to ramble on further and steal the limelight from Mansor and his most entertaining and nostalgia inducing piece. I end here by saying that “The Bastion” is a must read for former Band Boys to relive their glory days.
Mansor Kassim’s profile as a contributor was inadvertently left out in IWE. Better late than never, here it is:
Mansor was our rugby captain. Being good with his hands, he was also in the volleyball team and a drummer in the marching band. His rugby playing days ended after a spinal injury sustained playing for the KPP-ITM team but he has made a full recovery since. Having made a killing as a fund manager for ASNITA, he is now self employed and applies his entrepreneurial acumen towards his own business in the construction industry.