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YOUR WINDOW TO THE COMMUNITY
WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2012
Your attention, please: Manawatu Sinfonia guest conductor Tim Jones says conducting is a matter of keep calm and keep counting. He'll lead the orchestra in their next concert, Around the World in
81 Minutes, at the Speirs Centre on June 10.
Photo: WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
off the scales
By LEE MATTHEWS
The scale of E major was young Tim
Asked to play it on clarinet when
he auditioned as a seventh former
for the Manawatu Youth Orchestra,
he looked blank. Puzzled, even.
Handed the scales book, he took a
deep breath and had a crack -- but
got the rejection letter.
I'd practised the audition piece
finger perfect, but scales? Show me
anyone who really enjoys playing
them,'' Jones says.
It ended happily. Then orchestra
director John Schwabe offered him a
place in the percussion section
instead, and Jones happily tapped
timpani, clashed crash cymbals,
tinkled triangles, and bashed the
bass drum, all the way through his
primary teacher training at the
then Palmerston North Teachers'
College. He joined the Manawatu
Sinfonia as a percussionist, and has
worked with both orchestras for the
past 20 years. Now he's about to
guest conduct the Sinfonia's next
performance on June 10, Around the
World in 81 Minutes.
The NZSO has a show they call
Around the World in 80 Minutes.I
thought we'd give the audience just
a little bit more value,'' says Jones
straight-faced. It will be music
from different parts of the world,
fairly heavy on Europe, but a taste
of different cultures through music.''
This Sinfonia concert is aimed
particularly at families, so Jones
intends to have a show-and-tell
about each piece, talking about
Makes it more accessible. And
it's the teacher in me, can't help it,''
he says, laughing.
He teaches music at Ashhurst
School, and fills regular adminis-
tration release days for staff at Ter-
race End School, and is a relief
Conducting's a matter of keep
calm and keep counting, he says.
Palmerston North pianist and
music teacher Guy Donaldson
taught Jones the basics of
conducting; how to count the timing
beats, and how to use the baton and
his other hand to communicate with
the orchestra's different sections.
The trick of reading the orchestra's
entire music score, not just an indi-
vidual musician's music, came with
practice. This will be Jones's sixth
time as guest conductor for the
A conductor has to be careful
planning a concert, to balance the
orchestra's strengths and ensure
that the demands made on players
don't get excessive.
If you have a piece with a big
brass part, you don't want to blow
the brass section by giving them
another huge piece straight after.
Music is surprisingly tiring.
Conducting's hard work. I like to
have a towel in the wings, so I can
mop up if things get too hot.''
He thoroughly enjoys percussion,
saying the variety of instruments in
the percussion section keeps the
work interesting. Some pieces
demand the glockenspiel or tubular
bells; there's a great deal more to
percussion than just hitting things.
Music's been part of all of his life.
His mother played the piano; his
father learned the violin and strum-
med the guitar at home.
Jones started with the recorder;
in 1974 Aokautere School principal
Bryce Mills held to the belief that
children should learn music,
because it helped all their other
learning, especially mathematics,
concepts and concentration.
I got quite good at recorder . . .
it's a good first instrument for chil-
dren, good for small hands. I
remember playing Raindrops Keep
Falling On My Head, and the
Beatles' Yesterday at the school con-
cert when I was in standard four,''
He started clarinet at Palmerston
North Intermediate Normal, and
enjoyed it. It has the same fingering
as the recorder, and, like flute, is an
instrument that's relatively easy to
get a decent sound from fairly soon
in the learning process.
He kept playing at Palmerston
North Boys' High School --
seriously uncool in those days . . .
thank goodness that's changed,
they're really strong with music
now'' -- and was in school bands. He
also played tennis and soccer.
He has a love of baroque music
spawned by the 1984 Amadeus
movie, about Mozart.
It was full-immersion Mozart for
a while, but fortunately there's a
great deal to immerse in.''
Around the World in 81 Minutes,
Manawatu Sinfonia, June 10, Speirs
Centre, Palmerston North Boys'
High School, 2.30pm.
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