Banding downunder - Peter Younghusband

5-Aug-2004

Amanda Casagrande continues her look at the brass band scene in Australia with a profile of one of the many "ex pats" who has been making a name for himself out there - Peter "Monkey" Younghusband.


Peter YounghusbandLifestyle and climate - you'll be hearing that phrase very frequently in the coming months as I catch up with UK ex-pats who have made the move to Australia.  This week, Peter Younghusband's life in the country town of Karratha, is the focus of my article.
  
Peter Younghusband, also affectionately known as 'Monkey' (why? "Because I look like one!" says Peter), arrived in Australia in July 1997.  Many of you in the UK will remember Monkey very well as he spent 10+ years playing bass trombone with Leyland in the years 1986-1997. 

His playing days began with his local band, the Workington Town Band, when Peter was 10.  From there he went on to join the Cumbria Youth Band and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.  In 1985 he left the North West to take up the bass trombone position at Fodens OTS where he stayed for 18 months before moving to Leyland.

Peter began to think about moving to Australia in 1988 because he "liked the look of the place" and because of the lifestyle and climate on offer.  Just after graduating from Salford in 1988, Peter applied to come to Australia on the Points System but failed.  His desire to move here strengthened after tours to Australia in 1991 and 1996 when more Australian contacts were established.  "All looked lost until I managed to get the Western Australian Education Department on side in 1996".  They were advertising a position for a music teacher nationally but couldn't get anyone to take it, so they were then given permission to look overseas.  Peter applied, got the job and moved to Karratha, Western Australia (WA) in July 1997, some 9 to 10 years after first thinking about the move!!  
 
What makes Peter's case unique is the location of Karratha.  Karratha is 1600kms north of Perth on the Pilbara Coast.  The nearest brass band is 1600kms away - you guessed it - in Perth!!  "The original deal was that I would stay in Karratha for 2 years before moving to the city, but when that time came I told them I was quite happy to stay in Paradise!"   And yes, 7 years later, Peter still loves it in Karratha.  His job covers instrumental brass teaching and also classroom music.  Outside of school Peter runs a swingband in the town that comprises some of his students along with local adult musicians.  Peter also finds time to compose and arrange music.  When not doing any music, this isn't very often, he plays tennis and touch rugby.  "My previous weekly itinerary in the UK of teaching, band practice and concerts was replaced with teaching, beaches and BBQs." 

Peter stays in touch with the rest of Australia and the World with the help of the internet and frequent plane journeys which have now become second nature to him. Peter works with bands throughout the country in various capacities - guest soloist, conductor, tutor, adjudicator or simply a player.  He has also been Chairman of Australian Brass since 2000. 

Peter is of the opinion that there are lots of good players and some good bands in Australia, but, as with many art forms, audiences seem to be in constant decline and that we, the banding movement as a whole, need to think outside the square a bit more to try and create more opportunities and interest.  He believes that Australia is "better at sport than banding" because of the culture. "Competitive sport is engrained at a very early age and after seeing Australia dominate many world sports for a number of years, since coming here I can fully understand why!"

"I have no plans to return to the UK".  After 7 years, Monkey regards himself as an Aussie now and if you listen carefully, you may even hear him cheering for the odd Aussie sporting team!  For those in the UK who might be considering the move to Oz, Peter says to you, "Stop considering and do it!"  Peter has spoken with many UK people who are jealous of his current lifestyle and keen to do the same, but only one has actually been brave enough to do it! 

Peter's story has been of particular interest to many people in recent years because of the changes he has made, not only to his own life, but also to the musical lives of many students in Karratha.   His story is a classic example of 'life is what you make it'.  He has overcome the tyranny of distance to produce a quality life for himself and quality musical outcomes for his students.  Articles on Peter's website www.karratha.com/~music make for fascinating and inspiring reading. 

Amanda CasagrandeAmanda Casagrande

Coming features:
Andrew Snell in the Deep North;  Success Story - Tom Paulin; Brisbane is Best?? - Steve Ridler, John Kennedy, Paula Russell, Edward Kennedy, Samantha McIntyre, Howard Taylor all tell their story;  Roger Webster - you never know!!

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