“It started off as a job, but now it’s become an integral part of my life”
It’s 3.30pm and the sun is shining over the local café. This is where I have decided to chat with Blakehurt local and UOW student Ben Trainor. To the normal eye, he appears to be a regular student. Making the commute from Sydney to Wollongong three times a week. It is only when we start chatting for a couple of minutes that he begins to reveal his passion for music.
“Growing up (music) was always a massive part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are sitting with dad listening to his vast record collection of all the classics: The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd!”.. Whilst now his music tastes has changed, he has a great respect for these early memories, “they are timeless classics, music that will live on well after we are all gone.”
It is these classics that first led Trainor to pick up the guitar in 2005, at the young age of 13. He recalls, “dad would always come home from work and race to his room and jam out on the guitar for hours. In 2005, when I told him I wanted to learn (the guitar), he was so supportive and excited, we rushed out and bought a guitar package together.”
These lessons continued for a few years, until 2011, when Trainor made the decision to drop the lessons and start teaching local students. With a smile on his face, he recalls the exact moment that he knew he wanted to stop getting lessons and start teaching, “I remember being halfway through a lesson and hearing some commotion at the front of the store.. My teacher got up to see what was happening.. Turns out a kid had come in asking for lessons.. Problem was he had no money. My teacher turned to the boss and said he would take him on as a student for free… This moment opened my eyes to the power that music can have on people’s lives.. This kid who had come from a rough up bringing where his parents barely had money to pay for the essentials in life would come in every week to learn guitar with a massive smile on his face… it really was inspiring to see the joy music brings.
Whilst he hasn’t yet encountered a similar scenario, Trainor would love the opportunity to work in a disadvantaged community teaching students music, “it’s definitely something I’ve considered… I’ve read of different programs that head to rural Australia, providing free music for the most disadvantaged people in these remote communities…That would definitely be something I would consider”.
For now though, Trainor continues to teach children guitar and piano, and lets the parents dictate how much they pay. “I started out charging a standardised fee but after some students dropped out due to financial reasons, I sort of let parents dictate how much they want to pay me for the lesson”. When I ask him whether its based on the results he laughs, thinks for a few moments before he cautiously answers, “I suppose everything in life is.”