Inspiring a new generation of musicians

13 September 2016
Boy-with-trumpet-small
A brass student gets ready for his lesson

If you happened to be traveling through the commercial area of Mt Roskill of a week night, you might be surprised to hear live music wafting out from amongst the factories and shops.

If you looked a little harder, and followed the sound down an alley beside a car repair shop on Stoddard Road, you would stumble upon an old warehouse full of musicians in training.

This hive of activity is part of the Music Academy, an organisation run entirely by volunteers, who provide music lessons six nights a week. What sets this group apart from the norm is that everything is provided to the budding musicians for free.

The teachers are made up of former and current students from the School of Music at the University of Auckland, alongside talented volunteer musicians.

Many of the group have day jobs, some as music teachers, or are studying fulltime. But as night falls these enthusiastic musicians dash across town to start the first classes.

From less than a dozen pupils at the start, the Academy has now grown to over sixty students all eagerly engaged learning everything from piano, to brass, to strings, to music theory.

And this success has created some issues for the community group. The most pressing is that they are running out of instruments. 

Many of the pupils are unable to afford their own instruments, so the Academy provides them. But with such an increase in numbers they desperately need more. So they are appealing to the wider community to donate any instruments they no longer need.  

Former School of Music student Linda Filimoehala, who been teaching at the Academy for over two years says “not only are we running out of instruments, we are now even short of things like music stands”.

A music teacher during the week, Linda was one of three finalists in the University of Auckland’s 2013 Graduation Gala Concerto Competition, where she stunned the audience with her performance playing a euphonium. 

At night she teaches brass to a class that ranges in age from 7 to 20. She is also a member of multiple brass bands and hails from a family of talented Tongan musicians.

“If people have instruments out there, that are gathering dust, we would love to be able to match them up to a young musician,” says Linda.

Linda’s father Fakasi’ieik, who plays the cornet, had the idea to start the Music Academy after realising children wanted to learn music, but often did not have the financial means to. Soon Linda and her brothers, sisters, uncles and cousins all joined in. Together the group teach music, provide instruments and pay for the venue, all out of their own pockets.

Linda’s two sisters, Caroline and Anne are both studying at the University of Auckland, Caroline is in her first year of a Musicology degree and Anne will soon start studying violin.

Their cousin Richard Haunga, who teaches music theory, is a final-year composition and conducting student at the School of Music.

As well as teaching music most of the teachers are also members of the Auckland Brass Band, which was formed over a decade ago.

“These children are unlikely to be able to afford music lessons, let alone the instruments,” says Linda. But the effect that learning music has on their belief in their own abilities and self-esteem is obvious, even after a short time,” she says.

The Music Academy is looking for everything from drum sets to keyboards, to music stands. They also hope to hold a fundraiser concert later in the year to help with some of their other on-going overheads.

To find our more or donate an instrument, please phone Linda Filimoehala on 022 309 6171 or email Euphonium_1@outlook.com

Media queries to Miranda Playfair
Phone: 021 063 8393
Email: m.playfair@auckland.ac.nz