Re­tirees re­call key­board’s hey­day

Gather and play for fun

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By MAR­JORIE COOK

Meet Frank Ha­worth. He’s 92, knock­ing on 93, and he’s one of a dwin­dling num­ber of key­board en­thu­si­asts who gather reg­u­larly around our dis­trict for a day of mu­sic and mem­o­ries.

Last week, about 40 mu­si­cians from Wanaka, Queen­stown, Alexan­dra and Cromwell came to­gether at Wanaka’s Pres­by­te­rian Church Hall.

The mem­bers’ av­er­age age is about 65, sev­eral are in their 90s and all are re­tired.

Ha­worth’s been in­volved in the Cen­tral Otago Key­board Club for about 30 years, tak­ing up the or­gan after Au­drey Hen­der­son of Kelvin Heights in­vited him for af­ter­noon tea one day.

‘‘Au­drey had an or­gan and it was some­thing I had wanted to do all my life, to play an in­stru­ment, and she said: ‘I’ll teach you’.

‘‘I must have been one of the most dif­fi­cult pupils she ever had. Noth­ing seemed to go right, not to my way of think­ing any­way,’’ Ha­worth said.

‘‘About a year or two later a group of peo­ple came down from Christchurch for a wild week­end of mu­sic away from home. They met at the ho­tel at the base of Coro­net Peak.

‘‘One of them was John Hore. And I was im­pressed [by the blind mu­si­cian]. So I de­cided to prac­tise for two hours ev­ery day after break­fast.’’

Even­tu­ally Ha­worth was pro­fi­cient enough to per­form an or­gan solo on stage at the Ar­row­town Au­tumn Fes­ti­val.

He be­gan at­tend­ing na­tional key­board con­ven­tions with hun­dreds of mu­si­cians.

He re­called con­ven­tions in­volved a Fri­day night get­to­gether or dance and a Satur­day sight­see­ing trip or mu­sic work­shop for those who wanted one.

On Sun­days there would be another work­shop and an af­ter­noon con­cert by the host club.

He re­called the day or­gans were over­taken by the mod­ern key­board.

‘‘It was at Ash­bur­ton con­ven­tion, I re­mem­ber the key­board ap­peared for the first time. Ev­ery­one was taken by them.

‘‘At the next con­ven­tion in Oa­maru, there were a whole heap of them there. [Mu­sic in­stru­ment shops] were sell­ing them as quick as they could. What you bought to­day was out of date to­mor­row . . . Key­boards took the coun­try by storm. They could be moved around from place to place and they were light. You could take them ev­ery­where.’’

Even more mu­si­cians started at­tend­ing con­ven­tions.

‘‘They were enor­mous things with clubs in In­ver­cargill, Gore, Dunedin, Oa­maru, Ti­maru, Ash­bur­ton, Christchurch, Blen­heim and Nel­son. Each town had its turn . . . You had to be in quick and get your name into the con­ven­tion to be ac­cepted.

‘‘We are a dy­ing art. There is no doubt about that. Cromwell aren’t here to­day. We are all get­ting older. But there is no doubt the won­der­ful things that have hap­pened over the times.’’

Trevor Wil­liams, of Wanaka, went to a few con­ven­tions with Ha­worth in those days but hasn’t been to one for a while.

Wil­liams said there is con­cern for the Cromwell club, which used to have 10 mem­bers but has just one ac­tive mem­ber now.

But monthly dis­trict get­to­geth­ers are still go­ing strong in peo­ple’s homes.

‘‘Young peo­ple to­day are more in­ter­ested in jumping up and down and fling­ing their arms around than play­ing mu­sic,’’ Ha­worth said. Wil­liams agreed. ‘‘Th­ese things [key­boards] take a while to get a re­sult. And it is very hard to get young peo­ple in­ter­ested in the sort of mu­sic we like play­ing. The Bee Gees, they are pretty high end with us just now. Some of their mu­sic is at least 40 years old now,’’ he said.

Ha­worth’s for­mer teacher is still keen but with a bro­ken arm was un­able to play last week.

‘‘I tripped over my key­board shoul­der strap. I caught my foot in the strap and was over, bang,’’ she said.

Eco­nomic strat­egy de­bate tonight

The dis­trict’s draft eco­nomic strat­egy is up for de­bate from 4pm till 6pm to­day at the Lake Wanaka Cen­tre. The Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil drop-in ses­sion pre­cedes the Shap­ing Our Fu­ture eco­nomic fo­rum at the same venue from 7pm. The strat­egy was pre­pared by con­sul­tants Martin Jenk­ins & As­so­ciates, fol­low­ing an ear­lier Shap­ing our Fu­ture fo­rum. For­mer Deutsche Bank chief economist Ulf Schoe­fisch co-au­thored the re­port and will be at the Wanaka ses­sions.

Pho­tos: MAR­JORIE COOK/ FAIR­FAX NZ 629929101

En­thu­si­asts: Au­drey Hen­der­son of Queen­stown and Frank Ha­worth of Wanaka.

Photo: 629929099

En­joy: He­len Hil­lary of Queen­stown.

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