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The Salvation Army today is renowned worldwide for its brass bands and choirs, known as 'songsters'. The timbrels (like a tambourine) are another well-known feature.
The introduction of bands to The Salvation Army happened almost by chance.
The first Salvation Army band was launched in Salisbury, England, in 1878 and was made up of Charles Fry, a local builder and leader of the Methodist orchestra, and his three sons.
Salvation Army evangelists in Salisbury were having trouble with local hooligans, so Fry and his sons offered to act as bodyguards while the Salvationists sang in the market place.
As an afterthought the Frys brought their instruments to accompany the singing. In this unwitting fashion the first Salvation Army band was born.
Their immediate success led the Fry family to sell their business and become full-time musicians with the Army. Within the next few years, brass bands sprang up all over the country.
Read more at www.salvationarmy.org.uk/history.