Recorders music to Yemma's ears

Last updated 11:22 15/11/2012

Recording act: Kapiti Music Centre tutor Yemma Barsanti, right, with her recorder students.

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After 25 years, Kapiti music tutor Yemma Barsanti still gets a kick out of teaching the recorder.

The Paraparaumu Beach resident was roped into teaching music 25 years ago, when her son's recorder teacher at Kapiti Music Centre didn't turn up.

"[Waikanae music centre principal] Neville Patterson-Green said do you want a job? You're a teacher and you play. So I found myself teaching music after school."

Barsanti first learnt to play the recorder as an 18-year-old studying at Wellington Teachers' College.

Having worked in primary schools for several years, she decided to take up his offer, and hasn't looked back since.

"The music written for recorder is really beautiful. I love that type of music, the baroque style," she said.

"Personally I don't think teachers have been able to teach it properly, so it doesn't have a good reputation with some music teachers.

"It's just a plastic rod. It's not easy to make a good sound, but it's absolutely possible with technique and practise."

What she loves most is seeing children's development with the instrument.

Students often perform at retirement villages or Waikanae Music Society concerts and audience members always ask how old the children are, she said.

"The recorder is such a brilliant instrument for learning to read music, understanding timing and tone.

"Even though I've been doing this for so long I still get a kick out of it," she said.

She had taught nearly 100 students a year in the past, but that number decreased when ukuleles became popular.

Barsanti also enjoys performing, but doesn't have enough time with her teaching, she said.

She spends most of her time at Te Horo School where she runs the music department.

She also teaches one day a week at Kapiti College, and at the Kapiti Music Centre.

Highlights of her teaching career include seeing last year's Kapiti College recorder ensemble, 4 Chorders, win the "most promising woodwind group" at the Wellington Secondary Schools Chamber Music Competition.

Her students were also involved in a composition by Wellington composer Gareth Farr, with other recording groups across the Wellington region.

She has had many hard-working students, three or four sitting external exams each year.

"We've had many distinctions and we have been invited to the end-of-year high performers concert a couple of times, which is a great honour," she said.

A big highlight of the year is Kapiti Music Centre's annual concert, which has about 200 students aged between five and 17 performing.

This year's concert will be held at Southwards Theatre on Saturday at 4pm.

The cost is $5 to attend.

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- Kapiti Observer

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