Annette’s life blooms around the silver band

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Annette, front row, was the only girl in the Ashburton College Band in 1968. Future husband Gavin is in the back left of the photo.

Annette Hunt is not one to blow her own trumpet; she has a baritone horn and is an experienced musician.

She has been with the Ashburton Silver Band for the past 52 years and played the baritone since the mid-1980s. She started on a tenor horn.

Annette, husband Gavin, Peter Muir, Bernie Caldwell and Kate Guthrie have all recently been given long service awards. Peter has been with the band for 48 years, Gavin 42 years, Bernie 38 years and Kate 30 years.

The band, made up of men and women, mostly aged 30 years or more, plays at community events such as Anzac Day at Mayfield, multi-cultural bite, the Ashburton Santa parade, Bands in the Park and Christmas caroling.

“It’s been a big part of my life,” Annette said. “I like the music. I’m not a soloist and it’s great to play with a group.”

She also enjoyed playing at band competition level, although that was few and far between now. The competitions meant striving toward something and offered good challenges, she said.

Annette Hunt has been with the Ashburton Silver Band for 52 years and counting. Photo Toni Williams

As a 13-year-old, Annette Childs, as she was then, had learned piano and how to read music. She took up playing tenor horn while in the third form (Year 9) at the newly formed Ashburton College. It was 1966.

She was hooked.

“You are engrossed in what you’re playing, it’s a chance to switch off,” she said. “It’s a good outlet and a great hobby.”

Band practice was held during school lunch time at the former Hakatere College site, now housing the Ashburton Police Station.

Annette’s older brother Neville and late cousin Murray Childs were also members. Her future husband Gavin was also a member.

Annette spent time in the junior band learning the finer points of playing a brass instrument in the silver band, then moved into the senior silver band.

It was a time when the band had a lot of members. Band member numbers which were in the 30s, now sit at around 12, she said.

When Annette first picked up the tenor horn the late Reg Coombes was band conductor.

There has been a few since then including the late Basil Woodham, the late David Beckley, Andrew Beckley, Harry Bremner (who has just retired) and Allan Aberhart (the current conductor).

In the mid-1980s Annette sought a change and picked up the baritone. It’s a low-pitched brass instrument derived from the cornet and flugelhorn (valved bugle), and back then not many as band members were playing it.

The silver band has not only allowed her to meet new people and make lifelong friends but there has been a lot of travel, especially in the past years with competition play at provincial and national level events. It’s included competitions in Rotorua, Wellington, Wanganui and Dunedin and Invercargill.

At one time the Ashburton Silver Band was in the top A grade competition, but in recent years played at C grade level, Annette said.

However the last competition event was two years ago when some members joined with the Sumner Band to take part in a play-out in the provincial competition at the rebuilt Christchurch Town Hall.

“I used to love marching,” Annette said.

Annette would love to play competition music again but numbers in the band would need to increase.

Anyone who is interested in joining is welcome to come along to Wednesday night practice at the band hall on Cameron Street at 7.30pm.