T’was the night before XMAS….

T’was the night before XMAS….
When all though the house, not a creature was stirring,

Except Chee…

…who was trying out his new guitar.

Now I will have to tell you a story about this guitar. It was about 1972 when I first saw it. I had been having guitar lessons for a year or two and had now moved onto classical guitar and was loving it. Lunchtimes were spent with the deTheiry and Epere boys strumming out the local pop tunes. These boys were from some of the families that gave the local police the most trouble. I was dark skinned too and had been tormented at the convent in my early years so the switch to Puni school where I fitted right in, felt quite comfortable. Funny thing is I ran into Sam Epere recently and he still had a big round smiley face and he said ‘remember when we used to play the guitar together?’ We had a good laugh.

I practised at home for an hour or two a day and Dad thought I was so clever. In his heart he thought I had potential to be a rock star, so when Haydn Lovegrove swapped some parts for an electric guitar, it had my name on it. I held it in awe and strummed it gingerly, wondering if I could ever be good enough to play this. A Hofner, It was skinny, red and gorgeous with mother of pearl inlays. It had a hard case, lined with green cushioned velvet and the outside was covered in the stickers of the day.

Tony came home one night soon after and said “Hey Trish, I met these guys in a band and they need a base guitar for a gig Saturday night and I told them you can play for them. It’s in the town hall”

“WHAT!!! Are you kidding! I can’t play in a band! ” I was only about thirteen and horrified at the prospect of playing base with four eighteen year olds.
“Why not, it’ll be good, you’ll pick it up. I told them you’re good” Tony stood looking at me like I was just being stupid and stubborn.
“Bloody hell, I’ve never played base. Tony I can’t do it. No! I can’t” Jaysus! What was he thinking? In hindsight it was cool he had such faith in me but of course it wasn’t possible and I didn’t play that night. My girlfriends and I did start a band for five minutes, and we came second in the local talent quest, tho I should admit the competition wasn’t tough.

My guitar lessons ceased when my teacher went overseas and I became more interested in other things but I did regularly pick up both guitars from time to time and play. As an applicant for teacher training, being able to play an instrument was a definite plus and as a kindy teacher later, I played children’s songs every day and loved it, but as life got busier once we started a family I picked it up less and less and the cool 60’s electric guitar remained in a cupboard.

We started the kids on the Suzuki method after hearing about it from Fleur and loved the concept of learning by ear first and then learning to read music later. We started Damen and Ren on the piano, Tara, Chee and Simone on the violin as they became older and ready but as young as two, Simone started as a toddler with a wooden violin Gilbert made for her and a chopstick. After a few years it became increasingly difficult as the teacher moved to the city. At its worst I had to pick the older ones up from school at 2pm on a Friday and with packed snacks we headed to town. We started at Penrose but later over the Shore for the violin and then back to Takanini for piano lessons. We were often driving in five o’clock traffic over the shore and rarely were home till eight at night. After a few years I had a bit of a melt down. Helping Gilbert with the business, five children at school and all their outside school activities was just too much. I told the kids I couldn’t do it anymore and cancelled all outside school stuff for a year and music is something we never resumed.

When Damen and Chee became interested in the guitar that always sat in the lounge, I taught them everything I knew and both surpassed me rather quickly. I used to say ‘I taught them everything I know’ and occasionally revert to ‘I taught them everything they know!’ Both had far better singing voices and ability to pick up music by ear from that early start with Suzuki. All the children can sing like angels and its a real joy to me now hearing them.

Chee was the one tho that really took music seriously and one year entered the school talent quest. Coming second, he blew us away with a beautiful rendition of ‘better be home tonight’.
So many people came up to me after that and said how amazing he was. Just recently he has done a quick guitar course with someone while up here in Auckland and I hear the classical bits as he practises or plays for Aneeka early morning especially. We chatted about his lessons and it suddenly dawned on me that if anyone should have this guitar, it was him and so I have happily passed it to him.

Chee took it to a Luthier for checking over and after restoration it looks and sounds amazing…and so it begins a new life. It’s been packed in the van and is making its way to Anakiwa as I write this where Chee starts a new stint down there and I’m sure there’ll be some great parties and jam sessions where it will be enjoyed, which is exactly where it should be.

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2 Responses to T’was the night before XMAS….

  1. Damen says:

    You forgot to mention dropping me off for music lessons. Stopping on the side of State Highway 1, where I would get out and walk up the embankment of the bridge, then off to Aunty Fleur’s!

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