AYO Blog

AYO National Music Camp 2014: Blog 3
By Gabrielle Ruttico

Four young musicians stand on stage, singing from sheet music. Music educator and conductor Richard Gill is seated beside them.

Bonjour from Château Periwinkle, home to the WAM bloggers. Our IT lab is blessed with an appropriately academic shade of blue paint on the walls which has been ‘less than inspiring’ for us. Luckily the good company has more than made up – it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off each other, have debates and of course swap communism jokes every now and then. 

We were welcomed into the School of Music this morning by a pair of trombonists standing on the second floor balcony above the door. There honestly cannot be a better start to a busy working day than a hot breakfast, followed by a walk through the crisp Canberra air with a perfectly in-tune harmonic series descending from above.

Speaking of brass, there are a few members of the horn section who have made quite a name for themselves this year. First, two of them were choking with laughter at breakfast, about someone known as ‘Captain Lockjaw’. No one else got it until they explained he was a fictional character who captained a ship but yet was unable to speak. Being a viola player I fail to understand why that is so funny. Maybe the years of jokes at violists’ expense have dulled my sense of humour? Or maybe it’s just a horn thing? We probably won’t ever know.

Then the Lockjaw Boys decided that it would be hilarious to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to someone every day. A couple of blogs ago it was our Andrew Messenger’s birthday so that was no problem. However, the next day they decided to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ again to a somewhat confused Andrew, and later went one better by singing it for someone whose birthday is actually in August. By now the rest of the campers are beginning to realise that something isn’t quite right and think twice before joining in with them.

Today they moved to the next level when three dashing young lads turned up to breakfast with matching outfits. Quite frankly, after having listened to them at breakfast I was too scared to ask what was with the dress code. I am, however, looking forward to keeping an eye on them for the remainder of the camp.

The timetable was vague for the session after dinner – what was meant by ‘Professional Development Session’? Turns out we were singing Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, led by our extraordinary Music Director, Richard Gill. 

Richard begins:

‘I know some of you ask “Why do I need to sing, I play the E flat gum leaf.” So why do we sing, Billy?’

He fixes on an innocent (?) member of the crowd. Billy mumbles something and shrugs self-consciously. 

‘Come on, Billy, why do we sing?’

‘To get girls?’

The crowd roars with laughter. Richard waits calmly. Then:


The rest of the evening passed in a similar fashion and even those who weren’t actually classically trained singers (like me…shudder) had a ball.

Vive le Richard! 

Words About Music participants have been blogging daily during AYO National Music Camp 2014.