April 17, 2014

At Watagan Park we have been blessed to live in such an inspiring setting. With the Watagan Mountains just behind us and Lake Macquarie just a short trip away, it’s a common experience to wake up, look outside, and feel inspired. In addition, the place is teeming with talent: Avondale School has talented music and arts teachers, Cooranbong Park is host to concerts (such as the Firefighters Aid Concert last year), and Avondale College has an arts culture that shall be on display in March (the Manifest Creative Arts Festival).

We met up with Fernando Martinez of the local music store iPlay Music and got him talking about his passion: music.

WB: How long have you been living in the area and what made you get into playing music?

FM: My family and I moved up here from Sydney just over 2 years ago looking for a fresh start in this beautiful area. Both my wife and I have been involved in music from a young age, singing, performing, recording, and so on. We then ran a recording/production business in Sydney for 2 years or so.

Then when we moved up here I approached the original owners of iPlay Music when it was in Cooranbong, and asked if they were looking for a guitar or vocal tutor. Their immediate response was “wow! Were you sent by the gods?! We literally just had a conversation a minute before you walked in mentioning that we needed to advertise for a tutor!” I was a bit thrown back and excited at the same time. Quite quickly I was tutoring and the list of students grew. I did get some day jobs in between, however I kept teaching that entire year.

One day towards the end of the year I received a call from the owner telling me they were selling the business as they were flat out performing and recording and wanted the business to grow. They said they were giving me first preference. It all sort of fell on my lap and my family all teamed up and took it on board.

We decided to move the shop to the centre of Morisset at it is the town centre for all the surrounding suburbs. We now have 7 different tutors, many students and new customers. We are also a supplier of instruments to organisations like the Salvation Army and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. We have many plans for the future in this community, to grow a music culture and assist as much as we can with what we have.

WP: What do you love about playing music?

FM: Music is more than sound organised to appeal to your ears. Music is a language. An art form and a way of expression. Music has personally seen me through some of the toughest times of my life. Heartbreak, depression, disillusion, pain, fear, and everything else this world throws in our paths.

Music has been the tool which I have used to grow as a person. More than intellectually or academically (which music has been proven to assist) but more so in character. Music has provided me with opportunities to exercise my self-esteem in front of an audience, it has been my voice when I had none, it has been my words when words fail to describe. Music is part of me and always seems to find me should I get lost.

What I love the most about music, is that it is not a respecter of persons. Music will take you on a learning journey should you invest the time with it. Music is the friend that encourages you to keep going. Music is my heartbeat when I feel I’ve lost mine.

WP: What kind of equipment do you sell and hire and what is the most popular? What sort of instruments should the young ones start with?

FM: We sell and rent out the most popular instruments that people have asked for in the area. We have grown our retail selection based on what you, our customers, have asked for. We are flexible and are willing to bring in what we can to help our customers. Some of the most popular instruments are guitar, drums, piano, bass, ukulele, violin, banjo, saxophone, mandolin, and many more.

The best instrument to start with is the first one that comes to your mind. That will be the one you will be passionate about and spend that quality time playing. We offer lessons in all the popular instruments plus also singing. 

WP: Cooranbong is a musical town. Can you say a little bit about the opportunities that would open up for a budding musician?

FM: As musician, opportunities are literally endless; from playing in the street to playing in a grand hall. Cooranbong offers both of these and more. With countless churches, schools, clubs, retirement villages, halls, parks and more, you will find that there is always something to be a part of or something to be a spectator of.

We at iPlay Music will be running some open mic nights and are very involved in local events like the Morisset Festival, the yearly Christmas Carols, Anti Bullying concerts, Fundraising Concerts (like Fire Aid) and more. So approaching us with your details could be a start of your local musical journey. We are all happy to help you get more gigs. We also have a recording studio which can assist you to get a demo out there so your chances of getting gigs increases.

WP: What sort of age range does iPlay Music cater for?

FM: We cater lessons to ALL ages. We believe that music is not a respecter of persons, age, race, culture, or anything like that. Anyone can learn. Our tutors have that exact same view and that is why they work with us. Everyone is welcome.

WP: Thanks for sharing with us Fernando.

If you’re interested in interacting with iPlay Music, you can check out their Facebook page and their website.

Click here to discover more about living outside the box at Watagan Park

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