One woman’s passion for music has transformed a property on the Methven highway just west of Ashburton into a musical oasis.
Ruth Hall has transformed her house and land into a ‘music farm’, a place where people can visit and experience the joy that comes from banging a drum, strumming a bass or tinkling on a xylophone.
Ruth moved to New Zealand from Switzerland in 1983 and said “all I wanted to do was milk cows.”
She operated dairy farms with her husband first in Waikato then Oamaru and in 1989 moved to Mid Canterbury.
After her marriage ended Ruth converted a garage into accommodation for travellers and this evolved over time into a music farm called At Violinos where everything can be played or has a musical theme.
Visitors can explore sheds and huts on the property that house a unique collection of hand crafted musical instruments including pipes that can be whacked to let off steam, a pair of large wooden xylophones, Swiss cow bells made in a factory that has been in operation since 1367, and Chinese gongs that let off a meditative dong when struck.
“It is a musical wonderland, it’s a little paradise, it’s my passion, it’s my soul, my heart has gone into it,” Ruth said.
Ruth’s love of music started young with her mother who played the organ, fostering a love of music into Ruth and her four sisters.
In memory of her mother, Ruth has constructed an organ with the help of the South Island organ company, made by combining two English organs dating from the early 1900’s.
The organ sits pride of place in her music room, which doubles as a chapel, where Ruth hosts groups of visitors who are encouraged to use an instrument from her eclectic collection of drums, maracas, tambourines and casternets that have been collected during her travels around the world.
Many visitors have never played an instrument in their life but after a few hours in Ruth’s company not only are they making music they can also play a tune from specially adapted music sheets.
Ruth has hosted concerts on her property to raise money for charities like the Cancer Society, and is looking forward to covid restrictions lifting so she can hold more concerts and offer her venue for weddings and special occasions.
~ By Daniel Tobin