Chil­dren flock to youth orches­tra

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TESSA JOHNSTONE

Liz Sneyd, the driv­ing force be­hind the Vir­tu­oso Strings Orches­tra, could barely be heard above the din of vi­o­lin tun­ing and the ex­cited chat­ter of about 80 chil­dren at Can­nons Creek Hall last Wed­nes­day.

The noise was brought to a halt by a loud wolf whis­tle from mother and vol­un­teer Nikki Ta­maiva. Then it was bows in the air, and straight into the first song of re­hearsal for Katie’s Waltz.

For a youth and com­mu­nity orches­tra that has only been run­ning in its present form for just over a year, the 4 to 15-year-olds were im­pres­sive.

Sneyd and hus­band Craig Ut­ting set up a mu­sic pro­gramme for decile 1 schools in Porirua last year.

Pupils are given free string in­stru­ments, free mu­sic tu­ition and a chance to be a part of the orches­tra.

Their num­bers have swelled from 17 to 80, and Sneyd said they were at a point where they could hardly keep up with de­mand – chil­dren are has­sling their par­ents to get them there and telling their friends they should join, too.

‘‘A lot of th­ese schemes are pre­sented as so­cial pro­grammes, and of course that is one huge mo­ti­va­tor.

‘‘But what we like to dwell on is the phe­nom­e­nal tal­ent around rather than ‘ Oh, th­ese poor kids’,’’ Sneyd said.

‘‘Mu­sic in Wellington in five, 10 years’ time, will look way dif­fer­ent if some of those kids are nur­tured.’’

Ta­maiva now has all four of her chil­dren in the orches­tra – three vi­o­lin­ists and a cel­list – after she saw the im­pact it was hav­ing on her 11- year- old, Erana.

At first there was dis­cor­dant screech­ing, but they quickly got past it.

‘‘ My hus­band just kept en­cour­ag­ing them, telling them to take the op­por­tu­ni­ties that are given to them,’’ she said.

Erana has now set her sights on go­ing to univer­sity on schol­ar­ship and study­ing mu­sic.

Be­fore the orches­tra, the chil­dren had been ex­posed only to Cook Is­land cul­tural mu­sic, and had not been given a chance to learn an in­stru­ment, Ta­maiva said.

‘‘ Lessons are ex­pen­sive for starters. Here in Porirua that’s just a dream. You might watch the sym­phony orches­tra on a school trip, but that’s about it – no­body gives you a chance to learn vi­o­lin.’’

Erana said it was all about prac­tice.

‘‘It’s prac­tice, prac­tice. Some­times two times a day for an hour or more.

‘‘I en­joy prac­tis­ing, I en­joy­ing play­ing and lis­ten­ing to it. I en­joy lis­ten­ing for the first time, not know­ing it, and then when I learn it, I like hear­ing the huge dif­fer­ence.’’

Her sis­ter Tiare, 14, loves that fam­ily at­mos­phere of the orches­tra, and the mu­sic.

‘‘It put me to sleep, but in a good way,’’ she said. ‘‘The mu­sic was sooth­ing and beau­ti­ful.’’

Play­ing to­gether:

The Vir­tu­oso

Strings Orches­tra.

Pho­tos: MAARTEN HOLL

Fam­ily af­fair: Four Ta­maiva brothers and sis­ters who play to­gether at the kids and com­mu­nity orches­tra, from left, Fran­cois, 9, vi­o­lin, Tiare, 14, cello, Erana, 11, vi­o­lin, and Lina, 5, vi­o­lin.

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