Music Room Rituals
Lesson No.34 - April 14, 1999
(the date imprinted bottom right of the picture is incorrect)
VJ with white Fender Strat (on loan for the week from a friend, John Parsons) and Peter Andrews.
At the time of the above photograph, April 14 1998, VJ had been taking lessons from Peter Andrews for just over 12 months.
"How did it all begin?"
The answer is not a simple one as there were many historical influences, events and circumstances that combined in triggering the youngster's interest to take up the guitar.
VJ began life as a guitarist in early January 1998 - taught by his dad, VJ King Sr.
He was six, mid way through his seventh year, and within a few weeks of commencing Year 1 at nearby Samuel Gilbert Public School.
The "miracle of music" (as VJ Sr expresses it) was a constant part of family life. Chantelle's and VJ's earliest childhood memories of their father are of him singing, composing, playing guitar, or piano, in the family music room.
The sound of music attracted them both - and they would sit for hours at his feet, listen, sing along, and generally involve themselves to the point where it became a daily music room ritual.
On 26 March 1997, following a successful audition, VJ was formally invited to join Samuel Gilbert Public School's elite Vocal Ensemble... something Chantelle had herself succeeded in doing four years earlier. Then there were the recorder lessons during the middle years of his primary schooling.
All these musical activities were developmentally important - and VJ did enjoy them - yet they failed to satisfy two key, innate character traits... his passion to perform, and his industrious individualism.
Such marked lack of appreciation for 'conformity' prompted VJ's now retired school principal, Barry Schwarzer, to remark: "you can't help but like the kid... but he definitely has a rocker's mentality". It was Schwarzer's way of analogising VJ's irrepressible, infectious irascibility.
VJ Sr (himself the son of a school principal), caused to reflect upon his own boyhood years, with an undisguised wry grin described his son as a 'Creative Non-Compliant'.
But to return to the main point....
Later that year (1997) when the Lee Kernaghan bandwagon rolled into nearby Rouse Hill, VJ Sr, with a passion for good C&W music, booked tickets and invited Junior to tag along. It was an impressive concert.
That night, during the drive home, VJ King Jr told his dad that he wanted to play guitar. He was then six and a half years of age.
Lessons began in the first week of January 1998 with VJ the proud owner of a new cut-down $99 acoustic guitar given him the week before as a Christmas present. It was a lemon, refusing to stay in tune even for the briefest moment; it was assigned to the bedroom as a decorative item, and dad's trusty old Martin was immediately co-opted into service.
"I wrestled all my life with the legacies of being a self-taught not-so-good musician..." said VJ Sr when asked why he headhunted Peter Andrews for the role of tutoring young VJ "...and when confronted with a 7-year old displaying an exceptional learning curve and 'feel' for this instrument I knew I had to do all in my power to find the best tutor. I phoned Peter Andrews on Wednesday, 18 March 1998 after a golf game partnering Pat Twohill ... golf courses are such great places to meditate and Twohill was always a great sounding board. He dropped me home after the game, stayed for coffee, VJ arrived home from school, Pat listened as he played the guitar, and then said Peter Andrews was the man for the job."
Whether VJ's marked individualism will ultimately prove a help, or a hindrance, time alone will tell.
One thing is, however, certain - VJ will never be a musical clone.