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Introducing Eli: The Young Violinist Bringing Music to Millmerran!

Introducing Eli: The Young Violinist Bringing Music to Millmerran!

Meet Eli! An 8-year-old with an immense passion for music and a big heart for his regional community, Millmerran. 

This week, Annabel (Simply for Strings) asked Eli a few questions about his musical journey so far and his exciting upcoming community project; the Millmerran Music For All Bush Dance and Workshops.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Eli!

Hi I'm Eli and I'm 8 years old. I live in Millmerran and love everything about planes and music. I like to dance, play my violin and play soccer with my friends. 

When did you first fall in love with the violin?

I loved the violin from when I was three years old. Mum and Dad used to take me into the Queen Street mall to see Mum's friend Graham, the Saxophone busker - but I always liked to go further and see the young boy play the violin. Mum and Dad say that I would sit and watch him until he packed up to go home. I wanted to play the violin like him.

How long have you been playing the violin?

I started violin when I was 4 years old. On the first day of school in Prep, Mum says that I put my hand up in class and told the teacher 'When do we get to learn the violin because that's the only reason I came to school.' The music teacher then called Mum and said that they usually don't accept students so young, but because I really wanted to do it they should follow my lead. That's how I met my teacher Melinda Coles. 

What are some of the challenges that come with learning an instrument in a small, regional community?

Sometimes it is hard because we have to do it online. If there are too many clouds the internet stops working and it makes my teacher pull funny faces. Other times my brothers and sisters try to interrupt my Zoom lesson because Mum is trying to cook dinner. I wish I had more friends that were learning violin because I love playing violin with others. It can feel a little lonely because I like to play with my friends. One time I broke my string and I couldn't practice until Mum had time to drive into town to find another one - now she has some from online so I don't run out again.

How have you been able to continue playing the violin despite the lack of music teachers or programs in your town?

My teacher Mrs Coles lets me do my lessons on Zoom. Sometimes I'm lucky if we have to travel for medical appointments and I can do a lesson in person with her. I am part of the Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club, and when we meet on the Gold Coast to practice Mum tries to drive me down to see my friends and we can play together. It helps to play with others and keeps me motivated - I love it best when we get to perform. 

What inspired you to start the “Music For All” program? 

Mrs Coles wanted to help me continue to be motivated and practice. I like performing and sharing my music, especially with my friends - so she suggested that we could bring the Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club to Millmerran. I love sharing my music and I wanted to bring music to Millmerran. I've been practising really hard to help share the music with all of my friends and community. 

Tell us more about the “Music For All” Workshops and what attendees can expect.

We have been really lucky. There will be two workshops for kids like me. In the morning we are going to learn how to play a song on different instruments. My friends from the Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club are also going to help too. In the afternoon, Mrs Coles friends from the Australian Celtic Women are also going to help by teaching us songs to sing. We are also going to learn a dance. 

The workshops are part of the '2023 Music For All Collective' - the best part is that in the evening, we get to perform together on the stage and be the opening act for the Bush Dance. I can't wait to perform with my friends from Millmerran and I hope they like the music that we make together.

Tell us more about your busking and fundraising efforts and how the local community has responded. Have there been any notable achievements or milestones reached so far?

I go busking on Monday after school in front of the IGA. The best time was when all my teachers from school came to cheer me on. There are some people from the community that come to see me each Monday too. I reached my first goal and raised enough money to get all of my workshop friends a t-shirt. That way we will have a uniform and can wear our shirts after for memories.

I was raising money to help fund 3 violins for workshop friends too - but Simply for Strings is coming out to Millmerran and donating the instruments to me - that is why I can afford the shirts. I'm excited to meet Annabel and Millie from Simply for Strings. It is one of my favourite stores because Mum found me a new shoulder rest bag so I don't lose my shoulder rest anymore. When I played at Glen Innes with the Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club I met Paul Anderson who is a violinist and he made me promise that I would always practice with my shoulder rest on. When I practised every day without complaining and used my old shoulder rest Mum bought me a new green shoulder rest too! It's my favourite as it is green and it is more comfy than the last one.  

What is the significance of the Millmerran "Music For All" Bush Dance for the community?

I hope that the Music For All Bush Dance will give everyone the chance to enjoy music. I think it is important that my friends get to be the opening act as everyone in town can cheer them on and I know that is the best feeling ever. I hope that the bush dance allows everyone to have fun and dance. Mrs Coles says music brings people together and it's been a tough year in my town. 2 years ago Millmerran was in a bad drought, then really bad fires and last year floods. I hope that the bush dance allows everyone to come together and be friends because being a friend is the best thing to be.  

Are there any future plans to expand the "Music For All" Program to other regional and rural towns?

Mrs Coles says that Millmerran is a pilot project. I like that because I like planes. If the program works out Mrs Coles said that we can try doing more to reach other kids in towns like mine. I'm really excited to see what happens next. I have been practising hard to make sure I can help bring music to other kids too. 

How can individuals support you and the “Music For All” Program?

We are still fundraising to reach our final goal. Mum has been on the phone a lot talking to sponsors - if you know someone who might like to sponsor us you could let Mum know. Otherwise, we are collecting cans to help subsidise the cost of this event. 

If you would like to support the Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club you could like us on Facebook and buy one of our CDs. We are a not-for-profit organisation so all of our CD sales go back into making sure we can perform together at festivals and do fun programs like this in towns like mine. If you are interested in joining our group you could talk to Mrs Coles. We have a Facebook page too called the Moreton Celtic Fiddle Club!

If you want to travel to our town you could enjoy the Music For All program. After the workshops, there is a concert by the Australian Celtic Women and then our Bush Dance. I really hope it sells out of all the tickets. Everyone in town is getting excited for it. I am too. If you want to stay somewhere you could stay at the Millmerran Village Caravan Park. They are really helping to make sure that this event happens. Because of all the rain, and sun and fires our town needs tourists to visit. Even if you can't come to enjoy the music and dance with us in August you can always come and see our town. The bakery sells my favourite treats and the tavern has a really fun mini golf course that I am good at.

Make sure to follow the road rules though because there is a new speed camera on wheels near the bridge. Sometimes the army does training too - last time we drove past I saw them hiding tanks near the trees. It's fun to find them!

Tickets for the inaugural Millmerran Music for All 2023 

Bush Dance

Workshop 1

Workshop 2

Music for All Poster

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