The Salvation Army today is renowned worldwide for its brass bands and choirs, more usually called songsters. Since music is an integral part of Salvation Army church services, many Corps (churches) have choirs and bands which participate in Sunday worship services.
The introduction of bands to the Army happened almost by chance. The first Salvation Army band was launched in Salisbury (England) in 1878 and was made up of Charles Fry, a local builder and leader of the Methodist orchestra, and his three sons. Salvation Army evangelists in Salisbury were having trouble with local hooligans, so Fry and his sons had offered to act as bodyguards while the Salvationists sang in the market place. As an afterthought the Frys brought their instruments to accompany the singing. In this unwitting fashion the first Salvation Army band was born. Their immediate success led the Fry family to sell their business and become full-time musicians with the Army. Within the next few years, brass bands sprang up all over the country.
The best band members from the corps may be chosen to represent The Salvation Army in the Staff Band. Members of the Staff Band are appointed only after they meet two strict criteria:
- Is a Salvationist in good standing and are active in their local corps (church)
- Has passed an audition after a written application.
There is one Staff Band in Australia based in Melbourne:
We also have a number of other bands, including:
- Balga (WA) Corps Band
- Melbourne Veterans Band (MVB)
- Mooroolbark (VIC) Corps Band
- South Barwon (VIC) Corps Band
- Waverley Temple (VIC) Corps Band
- Werribee (VIC) Corps Band
Similarly the best choristers from the corps around Melbourne and Sydney are auditioned and chosen to represent The Salvation Army internationally in the Staff Songsters.
The Regal Zonophone website is a valuable resource for anyone who recalls blue Regal Zonophone records (1927 to 1957) from their Salvation Army childhood.
Today, the website features more than 2300 songs. which include the aforementioned records plus music from the International Staff Band, Tottenham Citadel, the Upper Norwoood Crystal Palace Band, Colonel Pugmire, J Coulter, Doris Coles, Herb Twitchin, and many other bands, instrumentalists, songster brigades and singers.
Salvo Audio is similar to Regal Zonophone is that it is a hub for listening to music from international bands; however, it also has videos, prayers and sermons on offer.