WildTomato March 2020

Page 72

Photo: Ishna Jacobs


Music for the people by the people BY JOHN DU FOUR


ometimes the stars align to bring together just the right people for just the right idea. Such was the case with two of Nelson’s musical powerhouses, Tanya Nock and Ryan Beehre. I met the humble pair recently to discuss how they found their way to each other to create the Nelson Voice Collective, a community-focused pop-up choir that brings together an everchanging retinue of locals for the sheer pleasure of singing their hearts out. The gatherings are thoroughly casual affairs open to anyone. Singers start off the session sharing a cuppa, or something stronger, then spend the next hour being taught by Tanya the various parts of popular contemporary songs to the assured accompaniment of Ryan’s percussive guitar work. Admission is by koha, there are no rules and the kaupapa is all about enjoyment. Yet in these twos’ capable hands, the crowd, which can easily number over 60, almost effortlessly produces a blend of Above: Rehearsal time 72

vocal harmonies for the final videoed sing-through that invariably ends up with everyone clapping gleefully. Tanya arrived in Nelson from England in 2003, where she’d learned the violin and worked as a primary school teacher. “I heard the School of Music needed a violin teacher, so I took on that role,” she says. “Soon I also began teaching music to all the classes in Nelson Central School.” Tanya initiated a programme there and in Clifton Terrace School where rather than directly teaching students she instead taught the teachers, enabling they themselves to give a half hour’s music tuition each week. “It was so satisfying to see how the children, by the time they left the schools, had developed a genuine understanding of rhythm, the major scale, harmony and basic musical notation.” Tanya was originator and director of Nelson’s samba performance band Samba de Sol, and part of Nelson’s Masked Parade and Carnival team for six years. “And in 2016,” mentions Ryan, “she was Nelsonian of the Year for the Arts.” Meanwhile, up north in Whangarei Ryan’s own love of music began with his dad’s extensive record collection. He soon fell in love with the guitar. “I got my first one after seeing a Les Paul being played live.” He began gigging with blues bands and then, at seventeen, joined an Auckland covers band. “I got into off-beat and funky soul grooves,” he says. “It was

“Music is an art for the people. It should be accessible.” TA N YA N O C K

the time of progressive bands like Prodigy and Portishead. Sampling was in its heyday. I began experimenting with production.”

Grassroots In 1994 Ryan moved to Nelson, forming Minuit in 1999 with Ruth Carr and Paul Dodge. In 2003 the band released their debut album, The 88, which went gold. “We were amazed,” Ryan admits. Over the next decade, Minuit garnered much critical success, their music featuring on media as diverse as video games, TV themes and even mainstream US TV shows like Bones and Grey’s Anatomy. After Minuit disbanded in 2013 Ryan began teaching guitar at Nelson School of Music. When it opened its doors as the new NCMA in 2018, Tanya was appointed Education Coordinator. The pair met, and the rest, as they say, is history. “The Voice Collective is grassroots,” says Tanya. “Its pop-up nature means there’s no pressure to rehearse or commit. This removes a barrier to those who simply want to show up when it suits to enjoy the immersive musical vibe. “Music is an art for the people. It should be accessible.” “It’s about inclusiveness,” says Ryan. “No ego.”