The Warrandyte Primary School Bushband started in 1983, nearly 30 years ago, and has run continuously ever since. All Grade 5 and Grade 6 students participate in Bushband every year. The Grade 6 students have the opportunity to audition for a variety of traditional ‘bush’ instruments, including spoons, washboard, lagerphone, slapbase (also known as a tea chest base) and the wobble board. A recent addition to the bushband instruments has been the ‘gargle’, which made its debut at the 2011 Warrandyte Festival. For many students, this is the first opportunity they have had to play a musical instrument as part of a performing group. All Grade 5 and 6 students who are not instrumentalists with the Bushband participate as vocalists.
The Bushband was the creation of local Warrandyte identity, Kevin O’Mara while he was a teacher at the school during the 1980s, and he continues to lead the Bushband, in his own inimitable style, nearly 30 years later. A talented musician and song writer, Kevin regards the Bushband as an opportunity to harness and develop the natural musical talent and enthusiasm of the senior students at the school. With the Warrandyte Primary School Bushband, he has created a unique performing group that has become iconic in the local area. Although Kevin is a demanding task-master, the students rise to the challenge of meeting his expectations each and every year.
The Bushband has performed for the Dalai Lama, and at major venues such as the National Gallery of Victoria and Federation Square, as well as numerous local events including the annual Warrandyte Festival over many years.
Kevin uses a wide range of material for the Bushband, including songs about the local area as well as humorous and novelty songs.