Peter Combe has sung and played for sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren and is happy that young fans still en­joy the same mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ences

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SALLY COATES


We catch up with Aus­tralia’s most loved chil­dren’s singer and song­writer Peter Combe ahead of his gig at the Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast.

How did you get into chil­dren’s per­for­mances?

I was a pri­mary teacher for 10 years all up, so I al­ways liked chil­dren. Then in the mid ’70s I wrote a chil­dren’s op­eretta. I just had that sense I could write for chil­dren and no­body else was re­ally do­ing it back then. Fast for­ward to Lon­don in the late ’70s and I got a lovely pre­sent­ing gig on BBC tele­vi­sion called Mu­sic Time. I did that for three years then came back to Aus­tralia and got an ABC ra­dio pro­gram called Let’s Have Mu­sic. By the end of 1982 I knew what I wanted to do. How do you get your­self in

the mind­set to write for chil­dren?

Ideas come from ev­ery­where. I have a big red book at home with 176 ideas in it. When I’m writ­ing an al­bum I’ll go through the book and see if any­thing jumps out. The whole trick is to get a bit of cre­ative mo­men­tum, just get down and do it be­cause some­times you don’t re­ally feel like it but sud­denly you’ve writ­ten seven or eight songs.

What are the ba­sic guide­lines for writ­ing a chil­dren’s song?

I may be stat­ing the bleed­ing ob­vi­ous here, but you have to like chil­dren. There’s no point writ­ing for chil­dren if you don’t. You need a vast sense of the ridicu­lous. I’ve al­ways had quite a Goon-ish Monty Python sense of hu­mour. I find lots of things funny. You can never take your­self too seriously. An­other thing is funny voices – kids love funny voices. You’ve ob­vi­ously got to be some­what mu­si­cally in­clined as well and the other thing is treat chil­dren as in­tel­li­gent hu­man be­ings. Never un­der­es­ti­mate a child’s in­tel­li­gence or pa­tro­n­ise them.

You’ve been do­ing this for more than 35 years. Has what chil­dren re­spond to changed over the years?

It’s very re­as­sur­ing to say chil­dren’s tastes haven’t re­ally changed at all. They still love se­ri­ous, funny, slow, get­ting up and danc­ing. I can do a con­cert for 300-400 chil­dren and their ba­sic en­joy­ment of the show is the same as when I first started. Deep down chil­dren haven’t changed. Al­low chil­dren to be chil­dren as long as they need to be.

Can you share a few of your favourite mo­ments?

First of all there was one lit­tle boy in Dar­win who after the show came up to me and with a dead­pan straight face said, “Peter Combe, you’re not like a real man,” and walks off. The sec­ond one was a lit­tle boy after a show at a school. He goes, “Hey, I’ve got a dog called Peter Combe,” and walks off. But my third and favourite of all time – and if I ever write an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy this will be the ti­tle – was this lit­tle girl. Bear­ing in mind it was back when I’d just started and I wasn’t charg­ing very much. She says, “Hey Peter Combe, you’re very good for 70c.” Peter Combe per­forms his Wash Your Face In Orange Juice show this com­ing Tues­day and Wed­nes­day. De­tails at thearts­cen­tregc.com.au

Pop­u­lar chil­dren’s en­ter­tainer Peter Combe with grand­chil­dren Oliver and El­iza.

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