Ron Arthur

Above: Contemporary Ron with his good mate Aubrey Gannon.

Above: Enfield City Band during the Ron Arthur Heyday.

Above: Ron and Jean Arthur with young David and the family pooch!

Above: Ron Arthur and Ken Mc Mahon, two peas in a pod!!

Above: Ron as a youngster in Goulburn, 2nd row from the back, 3rd from right.

Above: Ron in 1964, approximately 30 years of age in the Dubbo Band uniform.

Above: Ron receiving an award for his work with bands at St John Ambulance Brigade.

Above: Ron rehearsing the Fun Band, significantly with several rows of pictures of Enfield Band luminaries from over the years behind him

Above: ​Ron with daughter Helen on their way to another Fun Band gig.

Above: ​St Johns Ambulance Band under Digger Walmsley.

Above: The Fun Band with Ron at the helm.

On January 29th, 2018 I was on my way to teach my first class for the year at Gawler District College, my place of employment since 2011.  Next thing you know I’m on the deck! I had managed somehow to roll my ankle and go down in a heap. After the initial shock of the fall I felt the worst pain I have ever felt in my life! The ankle became swollen, couldn’t move it, could touch it, couldn’t think about it without wincing!

I got a free ride in an Ambulance and one of those magic inhalers to suck on. I ended up in Gawler Clinic under the care of a very nice doctor whose name was Brett. When he found out that I was a brass player he became quite enthusiastic. As a young bloke he had been part of the Enfield Band, the conductor was this absolute top bloke who helped him work on his BBb Bass Solo!  After being X-rayed we met again in a consulting room, Brett walked in with the X-ray results in one hand and “In a Cellar Cool” in the other!! He wanted to show me what Mr Arthur had taught him.

Such is the impact that a person like Ron Arthur can have on people in our community.
Over the journey Ron Arthur has given the precious gift of time and music to many people, not all of them end up being champions. Most of them end up being like Brett. Better off for the experience of having played a musical instrument.

As I sit and write this intro in May 2020, Ron Arthur is not in great shape, health-wise. His story has been put together by-proxy, in a sense, with contributions coming from a number of his former colleagues and family members.

Thank you
Geoff Meikle, 2020.

Ron Arthur 

Ron Arthur began his musical career in 1943 at the age of eight with the Goulburn City Band, NSW under the tuition of the late Joh Cody. Firstly on baritone, then on Eb bass. He won the brass section in the Goulburn Eisteddfod in 1945-46 on both instruments.

He joined the Wollongong City Band in 1949 under Arthur Trehair and later Tom Gawn. He played with the 34th CMF Regiment, later to become Bandmaster for a short time.

He also played with the Kiama Municipal Band under Bobby Grant and later Harvey Hitchcock, he was also Deputy Bandmaster until transferring back to Wollongong.

In 1958 he transferred to Gilandra Town Band and then in 1959 the PMG. (as it was known then) transferred him to Parkes where, on his arrival, was appointed Bandmaster of the Parkes Town Band.  In 1962 he transferred to Dubbo, where he took over the position of Bandmaster of the Dubbo Citizens Band.

With another transfer in 1967 he came to Adelaide, where he joined the St John Ambulance Band under the baton of Harold Hewson,  Lloyd Porter and then Harold “Digger” Walmsley who was followed by Peter Hutchings. During this time he took over the Klemzig Junior Brass Band, took the learners class and eventually the Enfield Band, which was formed to take on board the Juniors who turned 18 years.  Besides all of this he was still a playing member of the St John Band.

His dedication to teaching, conducting and playing brass band music also led him to form, in 1986, the Klemzig Oompah Band. The band appeared on “Musikanstenstadl” with Karl Moik on his TV program during its production in Melbourne in 1995. Ron retired from Klemzig and Enfield Bands in 1989.

In 1991, Ron was asked to take over the St John Ambulance Band where he stayed as Musical Director until 2001.

A small group of retirees formed together in 1994 and Ron was asked again to be the Bandmaster. The Fun Band demands Ron’s expertise with many engagements per year and still keeps him very busy.

Ron’s personal achievements over his musical career include;
  • 1953 Rockdale District Champion on Eb Bass, NSW Champion and runner-up in the Australian Championship in 1953.
  • 1962, Western District Champion.
  • 1972, South Australian Eb Bass Champion.
Ron has not competed as a soloist since then.

During his time with Klemzig/Enfield he took the Junior Band to “A” grade and City of Enfield from “D” grade to “B” grade, competing in several states at this level, leaving the band ready for “A” grade upon his departure.
Ron Arthur has given the gift of music to hundreds of people over his lifetime. Here’s what a few of those who have benefited from his musicianship and generosity have to say about him.
  • Jean Magin  - The most important influence in my life was Ron Arthur. Firstly he encouraged me to keep going as a pianist, then taught me brass. Fifty years later he is still “telling me off”. Together with Lorraine, we made a “Remarkable Trio”.
  • Julie Dorey -  For a couple of months prior to the solo contest Ron Arthur, the conductor of the bands, would spend his Friday nights picking up Christine Quinn, Michelle Rosenboom, Anissa Strain and myself and take us back to his house to tutor us on our solos. Jean Magin would then accompany us on the day. Over years, thanks to Ron, I won a lot of contest titles including National Junior Cornet in 1986.
  • Phil Benger - I believe that the conductor who had the most influence on the Bands' direction and reputation as a very good band, both playing/performing and marching was Ron Arthur. He showed us that music isn't just dots on a page but a language and an art that, at it's heart, can lift you up, bring you down, make you laugh and make you cry. Through good practice and rehearsal he showed us the beauty and drama of music. Many players from the band moved on into professional careers, teaching and onto A grade bands around the country and the world mainly due to the influence of Ron or Uncle Ron, as he was affectionately known. The birth of the Klemzig Oompah Band was born in the mind of Ron and has been the performing outlet of the band that, in my mind, finances our other habit of competing and performing other concerts.  I personally owe Ron a lot that he probably won't ever realise. When I was going through a particularly dark time in my life I attribute a lot of my recovery to staying involved in the band and being conducted by him and the opportunity to stay and perform and compete.
  • Paul Beames - Ron Arthur is the sole reason I play tuba, he took on the task of convincing my mother and lugging me to band practice and home when I first began to play tuba. He motivated me to play in junior competitions and with his guidance I progressed on my instrument when everyone else had seemed to give up. In fact my mother was told that I would never play an instrument….Ron proved them wrong!  He is one of the finest, kindest, gentlemen I know and he never asked for anything in return.
  • Christine Quinn - First of all I would like to say that I admire and respect him so  much. He knew how to engage with everyone. I was very young and it was a long time ago when I started my banding life so my memory is not so good! I definitely remember going to his home for solo lessons and he taught me to breathe with my diaphragm!
  • Barbara Magin - I was only about 9 when I met Ron. He was our bandmaster. He was very caring and considerate to all of us and even dropped us home after band. He knows me as Babsy and I’m Mikey Magin’s sister. We didn’t have a family car but we walked to band and he would drop us home. There would often be six kids to be dropped off. He was very patient with teaching me how to play my trombone and supported mum in accompanying solos on the piano.  He is a wonderful human being.
  • Edward Armstrong - Ron’s dedication to music and the community was outstanding, especially his commitment to youth. I remember private lessons with Ron on Mondays, he’d take junior band practice on Wednesdays, senior band Thursdays and gigs on the weekends.  His teaching, influence and support of youth has impacted profoundly on the community. I also remember Ron and the oldies enjoying their port with a few extra raisins in the barrel for flavor. Sincere thanks Ron for all your time, and for making the world a better place for myself and many others.
  • Peter Doherty -  I owe a lot of my passion and perseverance in instrumental teaching to Ron. He loved cars too, I recall his Ford Zephyr and will never forget his 360 Chrysler by Chrysler that I drove back from Melbourne after comps.
  • Susan Denman -  About Ron Arthur: I made a lot of progress as an adult learner under Ron’s guidance. I was able to “go for it” and if my effort ended in catastrophe my train wreck was met with merriment rather than derision. In that nurturing environment it was possible to be brave, to take risks, to improve.  Ron’s greatest gift became evident when he worked his magic with kids, tricking them into doing things they didn’t know they were capable of. “Just play that introduction again would you so the horns can get their entry right”. And the introduction got better each time. No pressure. No stress. No awareness that it was the introduction, not the entry of the horns that he was working on!  What a privilege to have been there!!
  • Kathy Cameron - Ron was always encouraging us to compete in solo and party events as well as band competitions. He even encouraged us as juniors to compete in senior comps. To help us he would hold Friday night solo practice. What made this so special was that he would pick us all up in his car and take us back to his place. We would all wait our turn for our time with him to work on our solos. When we finished he would load us all up in his car and take us home again.  My point is that he always went above and beyond to help us and encourage us to be the best we could be.  He is an extraordinary man and gave so much of himself to banding. I want to give an honourable mention to Mrs Arthur who was always there to support him and deal with all the kids in her home. Ron and Mr Mac were like two peas in a pod. Two extraordinary and generous men dedicated to banding.
The final word on Ron Arthur comes from Anissa Hogbin nee Strain - “Uncle Ron” always referred to me as “Nissy Noo”. A name I genuinely loved, it made me feel special. He taught me to love music, playing the flugel horn, tenor horn and cornet and he really knew how to bring it all to life.
He is the sole reason I now play and teach music for a living. A great man who would give up his spare time and his own family time for us kids to be in a band.  They don’t make them like you anymore.
Thank you Ron, you’re a true Musical Hero.