Childhood music

I’ve just been thinking about childhood songs. Music wasn’t a big part of my childhood. I grew up in a fairly non-musical family, neither of my parents were much into music (both my grandmothers were piano and church organ players but I never experienced any of that).

At home we lived as far from cities and radio transmitters as you could get. A neighbour had pioneered radio in the area and had run a radio station from his home to help sell radios until bought our and shut down by the Government in the 1930s, well before my time.

We had one strong signal from a station with a wide variety of programs.

Early afternoon they played classical music which I found boring. On 8 am on Sunday, after the children’s request program, there was something like Around the Bandstand with Flugel. Also boring.

Noon to 1 pm on Sundays was the music request hour which had some sort of modern music. Leader of the Pack was one of the most regular songs.

And I think on Thursday evening there was the top ten under various names over the years with the latest hits (once they got to New Zealand).

I listened a bit but never sang.

Music at school wasn’t my favourite time, that was playtime and lunchtime.

And I’m really struggling to remember what songs we did at school, apart from a boring hymn every morning at high school.

All I can remember at primary school all I can remember are Frere Jacques, The Volga Boatmen and Pokarekare Ana. That’s an interesting mix. We must have done others but they can’t have been memorable.

Before I went to school older kids talked about a teacher and his ‘screech box’. I tried to imagine what this was but was way wide of the mark – he played the violin, and I got to listen to a lot of it because I spent Standard 4 and Form 1 in his class.

He didn’t show it much but he must have had a bit of a sense of humour. One day when I had gone on to Form 2 I had to walk past the  room he was doing music in on the way to the toilet (it was an outside toilet). I walked past with my hands over my ears.

On my way back he intercepted me and made me go in and listen to them for five minutes as punishment.

I tried to make a guitar once from a piece of wood, fishing line and nails. I couldn’t quite get it tuned right (or make any sort of musical sound). I made a drum kit out of pots, tubs and buckets.

Otherwise I was a part time listener.

The other school song I remember was when I went to boarding school for my sixth form – Gaudeamus Igitur. I don’t think I’ve heard it since. Until hunting it out now.

I don’t remember it sounding quite like this.

What did songs did other kids do last century?

Leave a comment


  1. duperez

     /  1st November 2016

    I can remember some songs from when I was a primary school kid including quite a lot of the lyrics. Mind you it was only back in the 1950s! A couple:

  2. Conspiratoor

     /  1st November 2016

    Don’t despair pg, your school masters (catholic?) were men of good taste. Mario Lanza is one of the three great tenors. Without pav’s depth and effortless soaring arias but a true lirico spinto in the melodramatic style. My good friend Lindsey Perigo could bore you for hours why he deserves his place in history. For me Santa Lucia and its closing stanza brings the goose bumps out

    • Corky

       /  1st November 2016

      I was just going to say Pete has made a friend of Lindsay Perigo for life. Tell me Con, I can understand why Perigo liked Lanza, but what the hell did he see in the Righteous Brothers?

      Lets not forget our own Mario Lanza- Abe Philips. He worked at the Whakatu Meat Works in Hastings. People would come from miles around to hear him and the boys sing Xmas carols.
      Once he started developing a career, promoters wouldn’t let him sing before better know acts to save them embarrassment. One of our biggest stars who never was.

      • Conspiratoor

         /  1st November 2016

        Simple corks, they’re gay

        Hadn’t heard Abe. He’s not bad, more of a prince tui teka or englebert cabaret style. Great face for radio though. Cheers,c

        • Corky

           /  1st November 2016

          If you knew anything about voices you would know that voice is not another Tui Teka or Englebert . In fairness to you I could find no clip of him singing his opera songs.

          Oh, and your mate is an Elvis fan, or more correctly, respects his efforts…I doubt he would know the Righteous Brothers from a union organiser.

          Have a great night.

    • Blazer

       /  1st November 2016

      Perigo has gone bonkers these days.Most people avoid him.

      • Conspiratoor

         /  1st November 2016

        blazer, you would enjoy his ‘debate’ with suzie wherein he was driven from the stage by a rabble of angry muslims. Suzie fled before delivering the rebuttal when she saw what she was up against. Priceless! Cheers,c

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  1st November 2016

    I associate Gaudeamus Igitur with university graduations.

    The Latin translation of My Darling Clementine seemed the height of esoteric wit-I can still sing the first verse and part of the second.

    Although songs like How Much is that Doggy in the Window (arf arf arf arf) were before my time, they still appeared (so to speak) on the children’s radio programme whose offerings were, to say the least, not the most modern. We didn’t know this, of course, so didn’t mind, A friend’s friend and I spent a happy time telling each other that we were Flick, the little fire engine and asking if we’d ever grow up, Little Toot. He remembered Pete Peterson-it was on who knows how many times, but nobody else remembers it. Then there’s Gillygillyossenfeatherkatzenellenbogen by the sea-ea-ea-ea-ea…There’s a tiny house (repeat), by a tiny stream,(repeat) where a lovely lass (repeat) had a lovely dream(repeat)….

    It’s extraordinary how these songs stick in one’s mind, I can still sing all of that one and others-the children’s programme was a bit of a stuck record !

    A sweet little white dog looks benignly out of the window across the road, and I always serenade it with the doggy in the window song, even though it can’t hear me….

  4. Corky

     /  1st November 2016

    Talking of music folks, a new push is underway to change the standard concert pitch from 440Hz to 432Hz. Will they ever settle on one pitch? The present one was only ratified in 1977.
    Must say it makes the guitar a completely different beast at the 432 tuning. Even more profound than the Hendrix/ SRV tuning of half a semi-tone down from the present concert pitch. There seems to be a million reasons( and conspiracies) as to why we should adopt the 432Hz tuning.


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