Australian Music for Primary School Bands

By Garry Clark
Member: Australian Band & Orchestra Directors’ Association (ABODA) NSW
Member: Advisory Panel ~ NSW School Band Festival

This article is used with permission from the NSW School Band Festival and originally appeared here: 

With the introduction of compulsory Australian music at the NSW School Band Festival over this year and next (2014 & 2015), I have been asked for advice on what Australian music is available for Primary School Concert Bands and where to find it.

This article is by no means exhaustive, it is simply my personal suggestions as to music which I have seen or used myself over the years. There are CERTAINLY many more composers, arrangers and publishers of Australian Music which I have not listed here. The more music that we find and share with each other, the longer the list of available repertoire will grow.

The purpose of the NSW School Band Festival making Australian Music such a priority is to encourage us all to purchase good Australian Music, but also to help create the demand for more composers and arrangers to write new pieces for us all to benefit.

Before you even read my article below, a GREAT place to start would be the list of music that has been previously played at the Festival, and can be found on the website:

Again, what follows is my personal knowledge of music that I have used. My apologies to any composer, arranger or publisher that has been omitted. Please feel free to send me details of any piece(s) that should be included here.

Please remember that the NSW School Band Festival asks for CONTRASTING pieces, some component of SLOW MELODY or CHORALE (a section within a piece, or a whole piece), and now more Australian content. The adjudicators also appreciate hearing well prepared, contrasting repertoire!

Overall, please don’t just take my word for it! Look at the pieces, listen to them and most of all ensure that they will suit your ensemble. Please also keep looking for more Australian Music and share your findings with all of your colleagues.

I would expect that a substantial increase in demand would drive the production of more new music, and hopefully allow room for some reduction in the recommended retail price of music from Australian Publishers.

The following publishers/composers are listed in alphabetical order.


Brolga Music is celebrating 25 years of Australian Music Publishing this year, having been established in 1989.

Brolga Music has an impressive ‘stable’ of Australian composers, including (but not limited to): Brian Hogg, Brian West, Ralph Hultgren, Tim Fisher, and Roger Perrin.

I have at least one copy of the majority of these pieces across my three school music libraries.

Starting at Grade 0.5, there are some gems here that I have personally played:

  • The Forge of Vulcan (Fisher)
  • Regal March (Fisher)
  • Lullaby (Fisher) * I haven’t previously used this piece, but it might suit in your search for a slow melody or chorale *

Listed at Grade 1:

  • Bunyip Blues (West)
  • City Life (West)
  • Fanfare of the Champions  (Hogg)
  • Geronimo (West)
  • Market in Marrakesh (Fisher)  * I haven’t played this piece but have heard it performed *
  • Medieval Fayre  (Fisher)
  • Quiet Moments (West)
  • Shaken (West)
  • The Spook (West)
  • Trolls (Hultgren)
  • Wacky Waltz  (West)
  • With Flags Unfurled (Hultgren)
  • With Trumpets Sounding (Hultgren)

Listed at Grade 1.5

  • Fiesta (West)
  • Gone Troppo (Hultgren & Hultgren)
  • The New Anzacs (Hogg)
  • Race to the Moon (Fisher)
  • Simple Song  (Hultgren)

Listed at Grade 2

  • Bavarian BBQ (West)
  • Camel Train (Hogg)
  • The Charmer (McDermott)
  • Chillin’ with Max (Fisher)       * I haven’t played this one as yet *
  • Circus Marchimus (West)
  • Clowning Around (West)
  • The Crocodile Cakewalk (West)
  • Eighth Avenue (Hogg)
  • Gum Leaf Rag (West)
  • Intrepid (Hultgren)
  • No More Blues (West)
  • Rum-Bah (West)
  • Sandy Bay March (West)
  • Skeleton Dance (West)
  • Walkabout (Hultgren)
  • Wombat Shuffle (Perrin)

Listed at Grade 2.5

  • Silent Movie (West)

Tim Ferrier

I was first introduced to Tim Ferrier’s music in 2011 when he composed ‘Heroes March’ for the Dickson’s Yamaha Band Festival. He set out to produce a great piece at Grade 0.5 level, and the piece became enormously popular with more than 30 groups performing it that year. Two of my three beginner bands used the piece in that Festival.

Tim provided me with copies of his pieces suitable for ensembles up to Grade 2 and they are listed here:

  • Heroes March Gr 0.5
  • Remember The ANZACS Gr 0.5
  • Rock 101 Gr 1
  • Tumba Rumba Gr 2
  • Tales of the Sea Gr 2+

Tim has not set up a website just yet, it is on his to-do list, but several of his pieces can be found on YouTube:

Tim Ferrier can be contacted by email:

Hosenbugler Music

Hosenbugler Music is Tim Rowland, a musician, composer and arranger from Sydney.

Tim works regularly with Primary School Concert and Jazz Bands and his compositions/arrangements utilise his vast knowledge of this genre.

Starting at Grade 0.5 are two pieces that I have used previously:

  • Old Mac’s Haunted Farm
  • Major Muso’s March

Listed at Grade 1

  • Kids and Classics Medley
  • The Old Hundredth   * Another Chorale/Slow Melody if you are looking *

Listed at Grade 2

  • Repton
  • Irish Tune

Thorp Music

The Concert Band pieces at Thorp Music start at Grade 1. I have used many of these pieces with my 2nd year Bands with great success. You will find some pieces slightly easier than Grade 1, and a wealth of material from there upwards.

Both Joan Thorp and Adrian Hallam are trusted names in this genre, and some of my favourite pieces across various grades are listed below:

  • Kung Fu (Hallam) Gr 1
  • Three Little Fishies (Thorp) Gr 1
  • Haunted! (Hallam) Gr 1.5
  • Mah Na Mah Na Christmas (Thorp) Gr 1.5
  • Transylvanian Dances (Hallam) Gr 2

Wilson Publishing

Ed Wilson is a name synonymous with Australian Jazz and Big Bands over many, many years. Ed and his wife Esther formed Wilson Publishing in 1990 after noticing that the majority of repertoire played by our young Australian musicians was from American publishers.

Ed Wilson’s original charts and arrangements start at the Grade 1 listing and span to the professional level. Many pieces have a jazz, rock or pop element to them. Several charts also have optional solos and/or vocal lines as well.

Many of Wilson Publishing’s charts are now available to be sent as a PDF file, which can be very quick and easy to obtain.

  • Raindrops – Gr 1
  • Kangaroo Bop – Gr 1.5
  • Platypus Splash – Gr 1.5
  • Skippy the Bush Kangaroo – Gr 1.5
  • The Fairy Penguin – Gr 1.5
  • Traffic Jam Blues – Gr 1.5
  • ANZAC Hymns – Gr 2
  • A Groovy Kind of Love – Gr 2
  • I Will Follow Him – Gr 2
  • Wonderland by Night – Gr 2   (Trumpet Solo)


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