My very first experience strumming a guitar was when I was 7 years old. My mothers younger brother (15 years apart in age) had migrated to New Zealand from Manihiki, Cook Islands on scholarship for secondary schooling and he brought with him his guitar. It was a classical guitar and it looked so monstrous, in my view it did as a child. The guitar was in the guitar case, with the lid open and calling me to strum it’s strings. And so I did!. I couldn’t help myself but I remember my mother saying “No Hina, don’t touch Uncles guitar”. My Uncle walked into the lounge just as my mother was saying it and he instantly took his guitar out of the case and allowed me to strum it. He then placed the guitar across my lap and encouraged me to get accustomed to strumming the guitar. I was wrapped with excitement and immediately accepted the invitation. I am thankful to my Uncle for introducing me to such a beautiful instrument.
Later on he taught me my very first chords D, G and A. I advanced very quickly and was playing very well before the age of 10 years old. I was 11 years old when I began music lessons during my Intermediate Schooling years. Our music teacher Mr Darrah was a classical guitarist and when he heard me play, he began teaching me a little more. I was later asked by the Māori Culture group teacher to play the guitar for their song items and so I agreed. Many of the students and teachers were very surprised to see and hear my guitar playing and how confident I was in this instrument. In reality I felt that it was a part of me, to the point that when I slept I could hear myself playing and making sure to hit every note correctly.
I was 10 years old when a friend of the family Neville Smith bought an acoustic Spanish guitar for me and surprised me when he returned from his trip to Spain. He owned a chain of music stores in New Zealand and so he travelled a lot looking for the best musical instruments etc. for his stores. I was so grateful for his beautiful gift, for it was a hand made Spanish guitar. So beautifully hand crafted and polished with love and care. My first classical guitar lesson with Mr Darrah was to learn a piece called “Spanish Romance” we chose that piece, representing my guitar and it’s birth place. I was so pedantic in playing it well and made sure I put every time I had into practicing it. I had my first recital by the end of the second term and performed it on stage in front of the entire school, it was an amazing feeling to be sharing it, alongside other students playing their recitals. I surprising wasn’t nervous at all and why? because I loved my guitar and I chose to give it the respect it deserved and play it’s harmony in my left hand with the melody in my right hand, with pride. Strange thing is, my fingers on my left hand are longer by half a centimetre than the fingers on my right hand, that’s how you can pick out a classical guitarist hehehe…
I continued playing the guitar during my College years, with music classes at school with our teacher Mr Crooks. I was 13 years old going on 14 years old and expanded my music talents in taking up piano lessons as well, Mr Crooks was a pianist and again it didn’t take me long to learn how to play the piano. I also joined the school choir which helped and bettered me tremendously with reading music. I continued playing both the guitar and piano and went onto assisting the school band in school musical productions, as well as playing major roles in the theatrical part of Drama in acting. But in my final year of College my younger sister played the main role as Beauty in “Beauty and the Beast” and so Mr Crooks asked me to play the piano in the school band, in which I did. It was so lovely to be able to play the theme song and watch my baby sister dance the waltz on stage, under the spot light. It was her moment and I wanted to make it special by playing every note perfectly, just for her. Something I will always treasure and remember.
In my final year I decided to pursue my Science subjects and dropped out on sitting Bursary for Music, Mr Crooks was not happy and I’m sure Mr Darrah would have been as well, if he knew. I went onto having a career in Nursing as well as joining a Band called “White Sands” and sang as a back up vocalist for 11 years. I ceased to play the guitar and the piano and you may ask why? I guess I was disappointed in myself for not continuing my passion and just couldn’t play either instrument any longer. I felt I had abandoned and betrayed them, like they were children that I had left on the way side. But for some unknown reason I have had an urge to start playing the guitar again, I can’t explain it, maybe it’s a reigniting of old passions.
God Bless xox