Galloway pupil among New Zealand’s top brass

Dunstan High School pupil Sarah Wright plays a few notes on the cornet at her Galloway home....
Dunstan High School pupil Sarah Wright plays a few notes on the cornet at her Galloway home. Photo: Jono Edwards
A Dunstan High School cornet player has come a long way since her practice time prompted her mother to wear earmuffs.

While she doesn’t like to blow her own horn, Sarah Wright (16) has become one of the country’s top young players.

She last week learned she had been accepted for a second year in the National Youth Brass Band as the only player from Otago or Southland.

On top of this, she is bound for Napier in two weeks for a week-long course in her role in the National Secondary Schools Brass Band, of which she is also the only Otago member. It is her fourth year in the band.

For the young musicians, the goal is a career involving music.

"I think I want to go into the New Zealand Army band. I want to do something where I can play for an A-grade band. I’m on and off playing for Invercargill at the moment when they need me for concerts, but I’d like something more permanent."

Brass instruments are a family affair as she, her younger sister Aimee and mother Christine all play in the Roxburgh Pioneer Energy Brass Band.

Sarah started playing the cornet at 6, encouraged by her mother. However, the passion was not instant.

"I kind of hated it in the beginning, but Mum kept pushing me. Mum used to wear earmuffs while I practised."

Her love of the cornet grew over the years as her ability increased.

"I love playing with the National Brass Band now because it’s a really high level of playing.

"You get to meet some really cool people and you get to travel."

Last year this included a 3km march while playing on a trip to Shanghai and Beijing with an Invercargill band.Sarah was pushed to improve by her tutor, Roxburgh musician Alastair Monteath.

She practised every day, for up to two  hours, depending on upcoming concerts.

Mrs Wright said it was amazing how her daughter had improved.

"Sometimes she doesn’t realise how far she’s come. It’s like a musical passport. There are some great opportunities, believe it or not."

As for nightly home rehearsals, there was a "really cool invention" which could mute the cornet while Sarah practised, she said.

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