Music became my cubby house

A short story...

Although it took a few stubborn attempts to master the art of cooking toast over an open fire, I did it! Raised in rural Central Queensland, Australia, most of my youth was spent thundering across paddocks on horseback and playing piano. From the outside, I probably looked like one of the crazy 80's kids mimicking a childhood dream with a horse instead of a BMX bike. I was pretty much the ‘blonde kid,’ desperately wishing to be one of the boys with a cowboy hat and RM Williams boots. If only my dear brothers would acknowledge I was the ‘mister fixer’ like their hero MacGyver, we would have been be the best of mates. Little did I know they preferred ushering me around ensuring my ears were blocked!

At the age of four I was beginning to learn how to torment my brothers while they practiced the piano. The ivory keys reminded me of big teeth with black spots...well so I remember.

The following year it was official. My first lesson had left me feeling a little too confident playing all the C’s on the keyboard; I must say Dad was pretty good at counting while skipping to the car that day.

By the age of eleven, I was a well-seasoned performer at the local Rockhampton Music Eisteddfod. When living in town my weeks were consumed by attending rehearsals at the Rockhampton Musical Union Choir and taking piano lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I spent time with friends, played music and rode horses; although somehow in the midst of my childhood, composition introduced itself into my simple world.

My father often sat next to the piano while Mum vacuumed the timber floors and cooked dinner. In the end he had me using the piano stool like a horse, swiveling around in an attempt to explain the story of my piece as I added various notes and chords. Within an hour we had written a rough draft; by lights out I had composed my first piano composition titled Wars of Europe.

Although I spent most of my time on the station, I became torn between mustering cattle and playing the piano. My wardrobe reflected two souls living completely different lifestyles. In my mind I wanted both.

As I grew into my late teens, our much loved cattle property was sold. Instead of riding along fence lines looking for stray calves, my weekends became entrenched into the social life of a lifeless rural city to avoid the grieving process of loosing the home I dearly loved. Music became my cubby house; little did I know it was the beginning of self discovery.


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