I’ll save that information for another post, but I did want to mention Donald Newton. “Don” as he was known to us musos.
I have so many fond memories of this wonderful man, I’ll have to write them down in a separate post. Needless to say I don’t think he realises just how much influence he has had on peoples lives. As far as I know, he is still alive and living in Tasmania, although I know that his health is failing.
Don was a wonderful piano player, organist, teacher, composer and conductor. He worked at The Violinery and would on occasion purchase music for me or have my violin looked at if something was playing up.
When Elder Bruce C Hafen was the Area President for Australia and the Pacific, somehow it was arranged for Don to hold a calling as ‘Regional Music Chairman’. As I understand it, this calling required special approval and isn’t a ‘normal’ calling. I wish it were though. If done properly, it really pulls people together. Under this calling, Don was able to hold ‘Regional Annual Music Workshops’ for an entire Saturday. We would be able to attend classes and workshops such as:-
- Beginner Keyboard
- Music in the Home
- The Ward Music Chairman
- Basic Conducting Skills
- How to arrange hymns
- Music in Primary
- Music in Nursery
- Playing the Organ
- Music training for Bishoprics
- The Ward Music Director
- Ward Choir Helps
- Choral Conducting
- Instant Instrumental Group (those who could play an ‘appropriate’ Sacrament instrument of a decent level – we put together a hymn in this class and performed it that night)
- Instant Choir
And at the end of the day we could all join together with the Regional Choir in a Handel’s ‘Messiah’ sing-a-long complete with soloists. Bring your own book! Sing along with the choruses!
I believe the highlight and the one with the biggest turnout was when Professor Robison from BYUcame out and did a singing workshop and masterclass. I think it was also that evening Bro Hafen played us a musical item on the Organ.
The organ class was 3 of us with Don, learning how to use the stops on the organ and the pedals. Don didn’t know at that point (and neither did I!!) that I would go on to be a piano teacher, or that I would end up being called as Ward Organist at any point, but I did. The things I learned in that class were definitely put to good use many years later.
These music workshops were available to all ages, from adults to Primary children. The best part is that they were free! You would pay at least a hundred dollars to attend one of these through the Australian Music Teacher’s Association or the Conservatorium of Music. Not all of these classes were taught by church members either. And the day was open to members and non-members alike, with everyone being treated as equals. We were all musos – as far as Don was concerned. I think the last of these events was held in 1995.
We had people attending from Newcastle, Gosford, Coffs Harbour, Canberra and of course, from all over Sydney.
Being a silly naive teenager, I probably didn’t appreciate all the hard work that had gone into these events, but I know that I did enjoy them and I paid attention and learned things. For that I am grateful!