Headmasters of rock ’n’ roll

Band members, from left, Mark Dewhurst, Jeff Mead, Andrew Forrest, Andrew Felsinger, Mal Boag, Silvio Vitale, Simon Hamilton, Greg Lacey and Barry Wiggs. Picture: Supplied

The click, pop and hum of a PA system starting up is soon joined by the sound of guitars tuning, drumbeats and scales on trumpet and saxophone.

General chit-chat about the week just past melds with microphone checks. A basic 12-bar blues line on bass guitar is soon joined by a rhythmic drum backbeat and then guitar chords. Soon the room is filled with music and then laughter, friendly banter and eager chatter.

These are the sounds of the Headmasters Apprentices, a pop band of eight school principals and assistant principals from Melbourne’s South East, the Frankston area and Mornington Peninsula.

Some are retired and others still work.

The band was formed 15 years ago after its members joined music professionals on stage at a principals’ conference.

“Hey, we can do this!” was the general feeling after the fleeting performance.

The band was soon playing rock, blues and soul covers at conferences, charity gigs and other events across Victoria. Often they play for free, although the minimum charge is a meal.

Greg Lacey, principal of Lyndhurst Primary School, said the band was a “perfect example of principals combining a love of music and a desire to manage our own wellbeing by creating regular opportunities for interaction, banter, support and, of course, making music”.

“Many gigs are at significant birthdays. We relish the camaraderie of the band and the joy we bring to audiences who just want to dance and have fun.”

Mr Lacey shares vocal duties with Silvio Vitale, former principal at Mornington Primary School.

Other members are rhythm guitarist Mark Dewhurst, former assistant principal at Somerville Rise primary; saxophonist Jeff Mead, former assistant principal at Pearcedale primary; the moustachioed Andrew Forrest, former principal at Baxter primary, on trumpet and trombone; drummer Andrew Felsinger, former principal at Barton primary in Cranbourne West who organises many of the band’s gigs; bass guitarist Simon Hamilton, executive director at the Education Department’s southeastern regional office in Glen Waverley; and lead guitarist Barry Wiggs, former principal at Cranbourne East secondary (who was a guitarist with Ants Bush Band 1972–2017).

Mal Boag played with the band a few times. He was a music teacher at Rosebud primary.

The band has raised thousands of dollars for charities from gigs around Melbourne’s South East and further afield.

The next big gig is at Springvale RSL on Melbourne Cup Eve, 6pm-11pm Monday 6 November, with a portion of ticket sales going to the RSL Poppy Appeal.

Tickets from Springvale RSL, phone 9548 4155. To book the band, call Andrew Felsinger on 0418 991 989.