Chocolate, Wolves, Books, and Beehives

It’s October already and I am sitting here considering myself incredibly grateful for the variety of events I get to be involved with. These last few months have delivered a number of creative firsts that I hope I get to repeat!

August kicked things off with bang. Literally. I helped film a great digital percussion course for the team at Rad Rhythm called The International Pots and Pans Playoff. I love working with this team to produce cutting edge music education courses that teachers from all walks — even those with zero musical experience — can use to bring live music performance into their schools. Do check them out if you know a teacher who might be interested. We know the students absolutely love the courses!

A highlight in August was doing MC work at the NZ Chocolate Festival. I must admit, I do enjoy the odd bit of chocolate, particularly if it has chilli in it. Much to my joy there were many purveyors of this flavour at the festival. I enjoyed ushering people around the different rooms, but of course the constant taste testing was noteworthy!

Busting out a the new orange suit at the Hutt Food Lab challenge.

Busting out a the new orange suit at the Hutt Food Lab challenge.

Continuing with MC’ing food related events, compering at the Hutt Food Challenge for families in Wellington was amazing! This event was part of the annual Wellington On A Plate festival, and was an interactive event that combined fun food with interactive science challenges. Making ice cream using liquid nitrogen was a very popular activity, closely followed by mixing your own edible rainbow goo. Hundreds of families had a ball.

And then August delivered a real life highlight. One that will definitely stay with me for all my days.

I was fortunate to perform one of my all-time favourite pieces of music for children with the New Zealand Symphony OrchestraPeter and the Wolf! The second part of our 2016 tour kicked off in Napier, moved to Gisborne, then took a very special excursion to Ruatoria. If you have no idea where that is, there’s probably a good reason: it’s very, very, VERY remote!

Packing them in like sardines with the NZSO and almost everyone who lived in Ruatoria!

We performed Peter and the Wolf at the local kura (school) there. Most of the children there had never seen any instruments commonly used in an orchestra. It was amazing to bring our world into theirs, and experience theirs in return. For many members of the orchestra it was their first opportunity to partake in a powhiri (traditional Māori welcome). It was fantastic to share it with them.


Our annual Kids For Kids tour began in Oamaru. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was looking forward to conducting the largest choir I had ever worked with in Christchurch. See the video here on my Facebook page to get an idea of the size!

On September 19th I began a new collaboration with the Duffy Books In Homes charity. They approached me to ask if I wanted to be one of their many visiting role models in primary schools; someone who could bestow the virtues of reading to young people and get them excited about books. Of course I said yes, especially when I heard that I got to help hand out free books to every class on behalf of charity! It was a great chance to build on what teachers had already been bestowing in their students already. “Reading is the gateway to so many wonderful experiences in life,” I told them. I even took along a copy of the first book I ever read on my own. 

To speed through some other fun things I got to do in September: 

22nd - I helped out at Tall Poppy in Wellington. Meeting people like Tame Iti was humbling.
25th - I MC’d the Goodtime Music Academy Talent Quest. Amazing to hear such talent!
29-30th - I performed a series of educational music shows at Te Papa with the Goodtime Show Team. Super fun.

Then in October:

2nd - The Funky Monkeys played at Te Papa’s inaugural Teddy Bears Picnic. I got to meet the Play School toys and hang out with Suzy Cato!
18th - I played jazz keys for our Prime Minister at the Beehive!

Phew! And now to take a breath.

'Say cheese!' - with Suzy Cato, Humpty, Manu, and Big Ted.

'Say cheese!' - with Suzy Cato, Humpty, Manu, and Big Ted.