Students get expert help from top band

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Photo: Royal New Zealand Air Force Band member Reuben Chin with Mt Hutt College flute trio, from left, Abi Cavanagh, Bianca Birchler-Stockdill and Emma Papworth.

By Mick Jensen

Music students at Mount Hutt College have enjoyed some extra tuition courtesy of visiting members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band.

The band played an afternoon concert in front of the school on Friday afternoon and another in the evening for the general public. In between, band members took time out to offer advice at instrument workshops.

A college saxophone trio and flute trio were coached by Reuben Chin, while a third workshop featured a percussion ensemble coached by James Fuller.

Mount Hutt College head of music Matthew Wood said the visit of professional musicians from the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band had offered specialist guidance for three of the school’s five chamber music groups.

He said around 50% of students in Years 7, 8 and 9 learnt musical instruments and music numbers were growing “enormously”.

The school was keen to see that trend develop through into the senior school in the future.

Mount Hutt borrowed some instruments from outside sources, primarily Ashburton Intermediate, Ashburton Silver Band, Salvation Army and Cashmere High School, for which the school was very grateful.

A recent $8000 grant from New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) would fund more instruments, including orchestral crash cymbals, timpani mallets, a buffet tenor saxophone, besson euphonium, glockenspiel and 10 music stands, he said.

“The focus of the NZCT grant application was to get money for the instruments we can’t borrow from anyone, but that we need to maintain the growth in numbers,” he said.

The five chamber music groups at Mount Hutt are preparing for the South Canterbury District Contest on June 10 in Timaru. Just one group attended the contest last year.

A fundraising gala performance called Mt Hutt in Concert will be performed by the music students in Methven on August 9 in order to raise further funds for musical instruments.