APO Connecting’s Graham Bell talked to APO Young Achiever Lachlan Grant about his experience with the programme.
Lachlan is a 20-year-old Auckland-based tuba player who has been in the APO Young Achiever programme for three years. He is currently studying at the University of Auckland.
Who are the Young Achievers, and what do they do?
The APO Young Achievers are specially-selected aspiring musicians who come together to play at a range of concerts throughout the year. They visit retirement villages and refugee centres, to ceremonies and gala dinners on behalf of the APO. All these performances allow us to gain experience and an understanding of what it is like to be a professional musician.
When did you start pursuing music seriously?
Throughout high school, I was just playing for fun. I was involved in lots of different groups like the Auckland Youth Orchestra. But towards the end of my time at school, I started to do some paid work – with APO Connecting, actually – which made me think about what it might be like to do music 'seriously' as a job.
I think I always took my music seriously, as it was important to me, but the idea of making a living from music made me want to pursue it professionally.
What are some highlights of your time as an APO Young Achiever?
I've been very lucky that I have had many great experiences with the APO. Toppee Flat (the Young Achiever low brass quartet that I’m involved in) was formed for a performance on Tiritiri Matangi island for volunteers to celebrate the introduction of Kōkako onto the island. That performance is a highlight for me. It was in such a beautiful setting among the birds and we played for a very passionate audience.
Recently, I played with the APO in their KBB Music presents: Peter & the Wolf Live and Community Classics: Light & Dark concerts. These performances really gave me a sense of what it is like to be a full time musician – I learnt a lot.
Towards the end of 2019, I was teaching on behalf of the APO at a school; Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae, introducing students to music and the brass instruments. This has been another big highlight for me, sharing my knowledge with them and working with such enthusiastic kids.
How would you describe your experience as a Young Achiever working with APO musicians?
The first word that comes to mind is education.
More than learning my instrument, I have learnt good life skills, like how to organise myself and avoid double bookings, how to communicate professionally, and how to present and teach people about the things I'm interested in.
Working alongside APO musicians has taught me so much about how to be both a good performer and a good colleague.
What advice would you give your younger self or a young musician pursuing music studies at University?
Aside from choosing a smaller instrument (haha!), I would advise my younger self to keep in mind why music is important to me. Try to say 'yes' to every opportunity that comes your way.
Also, the most bizarre gigs are often the most rewarding and where you'll have the most fun! I've been lucky to have an amazing group of friends and colleagues to play with. Finding friends in music will make practise, rehearsal and performances all the more enjoyable.
Where to from here? What are you looking forward to?
I have two years left of my degree at the University of Auckland where I study music and geography. I'll be focussing on my studies for the near future, but there are some exciting opportunities coming up musically next year.
Toppee Flat is a part of a new partnership between the APO and the Auckland Blues that will see us playing on the sidelines of Blues games and for incoming crowds. I can't wait to be a part of the excitement of game day and bring live music to Eden Park!