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A Life of Music

Director of Music David O’Meara's 13 year association with the College started with CBC back in 2009. Since then, he has shared his love of music with thousands of students. David was interviewed on 5 August 2021 by Elaine Doyle, Director of Development. Below is an extract of the interview. The full interview can be viewed below.


‘When students get the love of playing a musical instrument, it’s a life-long gift’


David reflects, 'attending CBC St Kilda in the late 60’s early 70’s it was a very different place, awash with black soutanes of the Christian Brothers'. Music was not a subject when David attended CBC but there was a long tradition of the Army Cadet Brass (marching) Band. This attracted David to playing the trumpet and a desire to play in the Cadet Band. David had learnt piano when he was young and was from a musical family. His father was an entertainer and actor on TV who knew a lot of musicians and his grandfather was a professional musician who worked in New York.

Like all musicians David wanted to play music and did for many years, after school joining the Royal Australian Navy Band. He at first played the trumpet then changed to French horn whilst in the RAN. This opened up a world of classical music, from his beginnings of a love of playing Jazz trumpet. David now plays piano, French horn, flügal horn and the valve trombone in various community ensembles and a professional duo ‘The Kahuna Daddies’.

As a student, David remembers the powerful impact of the ANZAC Memorial Service. As Director of Music, each year David has continued this tradition with preparing our students to perform in this moving College ceremony. Our College band is invited each year to perform at the Caulfield RSL Dawn Service on ANZAC Day, a tremendous community service experience.  

His other great memories are of the Musicals each year, this year lots of work is currently happening on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and has been great fun. In David’s nearly 30 years of teaching he comments on this year’s group of students in the musical, ‘to be the most amazing and enthusiastic, right from the first rehearsal they all sang full-on, passionate and committed’. 'We have always had the tradition with PCW of producing musicals together and this led to creating a company to put on these combined schools’ performances'. When asked if David thought that the impact of St Mary’s College being a co-educational College had increased enthusiasm in the preparation of the musical David replied, ‘You need girls and boys combined to have a really good musical, … now we are co-educational’.

Many Alumni may remember their time learning and performing music at CBC. David reflects on his own experience, ‘I did not remember much about Math classes, perhaps a couple of English classes but what stayed with me were the extra-curricular experiences, such as music camps, concerts and army cadet camps’.

He fondly remembers lots of concerts over the years and the fantastic students who have gone onto professional careers in music. ‘It’s a buzz when you find a talented student, you give them an instrument and they take off’. ‘The rock bands have had a lot of success over the years and have won the ACC Battle of the Bands many times’. St Mary’s College is hosting this event this year and David believes our Year 9 rock band will do well.

A classical trained musician, when he saw our rock students play with so much passion and commitment, he realized, ‘you just have to nurture that and get them playing’. The groups will usually form themselves with support provided for Year 7s.  ‘They work with Charlie Rooke, the College’s guitar teacher, who is our Rock Group coach and one of the best guitar teachers in Melbourne. All his students play incredibly well and their energy and commitment is fantastic’.

When David first came to teach at CBC he inherited a brass band and an outstanding rock trio and combined the two in his adaptation of 2001 a Space Odyssey with a driving funk rhythm section. David reflected on his brother’s fond memories of the CBC bands the Kram and Harper Lee, nostalgic of performances in St Mary’s Parish Hall.

What is next? After 29 years of teaching David will retire at the end of 2021 to Lismore, NSW to play more music in bands and orchestras.

David’s parting words were:

‘He who loves his work does not work’


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