The Opononi Summer Music School is a five-day annual music school, run by Whangarei Youth Music. Set in the picturesque surrounds of the Hokianga Harbour, it offers a way to enjoy the beautiful January weather while experiencing an intense musical journey.
In 2016, I had the pleasure of attending alongside my mother, as well as five current or ex-members of Manukau Concert Band. Most of us treated it as a bootcamp for learning a new instrument: a tuba player on trombone, a tenor sax player on trumpet, an oboist on bassoon, and our ex-conductor on string bass.
During the 34 hours of playing, we sightread through 28 pieces, and performed 13 of them to an appreciative crowd of locals and whanau. A whole lot of learning took place in a short space of time!
Opononi Summer Music School runs mostly as two-hours on, two-hours-off, starting at 6am each day, and finishing at 8:30pm. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s intense, and hard work, but the structure of eating at the marae, walking down the beach, and practicing at the school gives plenty of time for meeting other community musicians and renewing old friendships. The MCB group even found time for an impromptu yoga session on the lawn, and to have a go at some not-very-synchronised synchronised swimming.
The very affordable price includes meals and marae accommodation, but you can choose to hire a local bach or stay at a backpackers.
If you are looking for a musical experience that is quite unlike any other, Opononi Summer Music School is it!