• Liv Appleton

A real disney fantasy

Brass band Instruments in Disney Films


I love brass bands - obviously, but one of my other major loves is Disney. From the movies and soundtracks to artwork and documentaries about movie-making - I am obsessed! When I'm not practising, writing or creating brass band videos, you're likely to find me drawing some kind of Disney Character whilst binge-watching hours of Disney+.


Now, during my time on furlough, earlier in the year, I started re-watching Disney films I hadn't watched in years and discovered something wonderful - brass bands and brass instruments have featured in Disney films! It's the little things in life that count, especially when you're bored and miserable on furlough. So I thought I'd share some of the scenes where brass band instruments have featured!


So grab your popcorn, log in to Disney+ or dig out your Disney DVD collection and let's jump in!


Mary Poppins



For some people, brass bands can be something quite atrocious, but for those of us who have taste, we think they are practically perfect in every way like the rosy-cheeked Nanny, Mary Poppins. However, did you know that this Disney classic has a brass band instrument cameo? At the start of the film we are introduced to Bert the chimney-sweep, street artist, roof-dancer, one-man band and friend to Mary Poppins, Jane and Michael. It is the one-man band aspect of Bert's eclectic career choices that we're going to focus on. As you can see in the photo, Bert is wearing a contraption that consists of a bass drum, cymbals, a horn and a harmonica...but what is that on his shoulder? A cornet (a soprano cornet by my reckoning) - who'd have thought?! Maybe Bert pops down to his local brass band after a day of sweeping chimneys, dancing with penguins and riding merry-go-round horses.


'And now the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Silver Band proudly presents, Bert the Chimney Sweep playing 'Feed the Birds' arranged by Jonathan Bates.'



Bedknobs and Broomsticks



From a nanny who travels via umbrella to a witch who prefers to use a bed to get about. There have been a few time where I've gone for a lie-down after one too many post-contest beers and felt like the bed was moving, but in this 1971 film, Miss Price (a witch in training) and the evacuees in her care fly to adventurous destinations on a bed, which is powered by a magic knob...of the decorative, metal variety - minds out of the gutters please, this is a family film...despite it sounding like your average weekend at the Butlin's contest. Having said that, the script does include the line: 'What's this got to do with my knob?'. I reckon there was a bet going on between the screenwriters to see who could include the best innuendo. I digress. The scene we're going to focus on in this film is when the group travel to the market place on Portobello Road to find the other half of a spellbook. During their exploration of the market, there is a big song and dance sequence that shows the various sellers and visitors to Portobello Road. During this sequence, a group of soldiers and sailors (the film is set in World War Two) jump up on a stand selling musical instruments and start to play a jazzy variation of the song. What makes up the majority of this ensemble? Brass instruments. Two of the sailors pick up a cornet and a trombone and a soldier picks up a bass. Hopefully, they would have been able to convince the other soldier to swap his saxophone for a proper instrument. No wonder the musical instruments were selling cheap if the stall owner allowed people to randomly pick them up and play them. If that was his main form of advertising, they wouldn't be completing a lot of sales in the current climate, would they?


'Musical Instruments - Cheap, only played in six impromptu dance sequences!'


I suppose it would also be quite difficult to ensure social distancing during an unexpected dance routine too - 'please endeavor to keep all pirouettes at 2 metres apart!'


The Lone Ranger



As much as I love the ending of 'Brassed Off', where they perform the finale from William Tell - despite it potentially being the shortest Championship National Finals test pieces, I have to admit that Han Zimmer's arrangement of William Tell, which is used in the finale of 'The Lone Ranger' is unbelievably amazing. This is one of my favourite films due to its soundtrack and the last chase scene at the end. Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, defeating bad guys whilst riding a stallion - incredibly talented actor...where was I? Ah yes, brass bands. During the finale, the town is unveiling the brand new railroad and how do they celebrate this occasion? With a brass band and I don't mean a couple of trumpets and a sousaphone type of 'brass band', I mean a proper brass band with cornets and tenor horns - marvellous!


These are just a few instances of brass instruments featuring in Disney films, there are others that I have noticed, so there may be a part 2 of brass band instruments featuring in Disney, keep your eyes peeled for that!


Have you spotted your instrument in a Disney film?


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