Musical Memories - WBHS - 1944-45 - By Alistair Kerr
In my day, I suppose that, in those far-off days, nobody could call Waitaki a strongly musical school. Certainly Rugby took precedence over music!
Nevertheless, the school’s music programme provided me with many fine memories, so it must have had some value.
I don’t recall that we had an orchestra as such, but we certainly had a band, because I was in it! There were about a dozen boys in the band which was led by Mr P.W. "Tracker" Hargreaves. Our repertoire was limited as Tracker obviously realised that with limited time and numbers, quality was better than quantity.
As one of the biggest boys I was given the E-flat Bass to play. I even had a three-note solo in the march, "Sussex by the Sea" ! I don’t think we mastered the skill of playing on the march, but we did provide the march-past music during Barracks Week.
Assembly singing in the Hall of Memories was dominated by the presence of the tremendous organ, played by the Music Master Mr L.H. "Mo" Goddard, or sometimes by one of the senior boys. I believe that the school’s roll then was up in the six-hundreds, so there was plenty of volume. We belted out such rousing hymns as "For All The Saints" or "The Old Hundred". Oddly enough for a boys’ school, one hymn that stays in my memory is a particularly beautiful version of the Magnificat, (from the Anglican service-book), "My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord". Another is "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men". We also sang good old "Patriotic" songs like The Yeomen of England and "The Fishermen of England", or "“Drake Is Going West Lad". Another pair of songs which reflected the trend to emulate the English Public-school ethic was "Jolly Rugger Weather" and "Forty Years On"……..Forty years on when afar and asunder, parted are those who are singing today and even then, those words gave me cause to think how the school would remain in my memories.
One year I remember that we had an Inter-House Choir Competition. My House, (the now-defunct Harkness) won that year. I remember one of our songs, which has stayed with me, was a four-part version of a tune called "Deep Harmony".
I had learned the piano for some years before going to Waitaki and my parents were keen that I continued under "Mo’s" tuition. He was a good teacher and Imust have progressed because at the end of my final year he said, "If you come back next year, I’ll start you on the organ". That was a rare compliment.
However my desire to start a career at sea took precedence, but I sometimes wish……. "Mo" was a chain smoker and the odd boy who liked to sneak a smoke reckoned that the best time was after being in Mo’s room for a lesson as you came out smelling of smoke!
So, as well as many other life-changing memories and experiences, Waitaki has left me with some happy musical reminiscences which, in memory, still give me pleasure.