David Price, right, and members of Tempo Terrific perform at the Salvation Army's Woodport Aged Care.
David Price, right, and members of Tempo Terrific perform at the Salvation Army's Woodport Aged Care.

Music’s power strikes chord

TEMPO Terrific is a community concert band with a difference, untroubled by playing at times to audiences they outnumber.

They know what their music means to the members of those audiences in their primary venues - retirement and nursing homes - arguably more than to audiences numbering in their hundreds.

Long-time member, clarinettist David Price, said he had questioned a supervisor at a pre-Christmas concert how much difference the band really made to residents.

The carer told him they had been trying to get a certain woman to speak for weeks and hadn't heard a word out of her, "now she's sitting here singing Christmas carols with you".

He believes music forms a valuable link between the past and present, reminding the audience of their younger years and reaching them as nothing else does, even if it is just shown in a hand movement or a smile.

"It's incredibly satisfying," he said.

David has been with Tempo Terrific almost since its inception more than 20 years ago.

Like many members, he plays in other bands as well - in his case the Central Coast Concert Band and a woodwind ensemble.

But he didn't start playing until he was 52.

"I couldn't even read music … according to some I still can't," he laughed.

"I grew up in wartime England and I think only one of my friends ever had music lessons, but I loved listening to the Armed Forces network and musicians like Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey.

"I never thought one day I'd be playing the music they were playing … perhaps not quite as well."

One day while in Sydney he decided to stop by the Conservatorium of Music to ask about learning to play "something".

As serendipity would have it, the woodwind principal was walking past at the time, and two hours later David walked out with a $200 clarinet.

Forty years later, he is still playing.

Tempo Terrific's members, mostly retirees with an average age in the 70s, have a wide range of experience from professional musicians to those returning to music post-work, and "late-comers" like David.

They rehearse some of their 100-150-strong repertoire weekly and have performed at council events, festivals and commemorations, Laycock Theatre and carols concerts, as well as nursing homes.

The range of music, David said, was huge, everything from 1920s jazz and swing, to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and the music of the 1940s and '50s, big band to light classical and musicals as contemporary as Hamilton.

Their next booking is St Patrick's Day at Lisarow's The Orchards retirement village.

That's another benefit of the 30 or more members generally being retired and the band comprising multiple musicians and conductors: it can play any day of the week, with one or two missing members unlikely to affect the overall sound. New adult players are welcome, but David cautioned that beginners would find it too difficult and you do have to be able to read music.

To find out more go to www.tempoterrific.com, phone secretary Del Matheson on 4341 4160, or pop in at rehearsals 5-7pm Mondays at The Uniting Church, cnr Avoca Dr and Killuna Rd, Kincumber.

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