Music man still in tune with his passion
He may live in an aged care community, but Noel Underwood still gets out and about to enjoy his favourite pastime with friends.
No sooner had Noel trumpeted his arrival as a new resident of Carinity Cedarbrook aged care on the Gold Coast, he was out the door again – to attend band practise.
Each week the 95-year-old attends rehearsals with the Hinterland Concert Band at the nearby Mudgeeraba Music Centre.
“I’m the oldest gentleman in the band. I pretty much seem to be the oldest man wherever I go at the moment,” Noel joked.
The Hinterland Concert Band plays a mixture of contemporary, swing and popular music tunes from a variety of eras: everything from Coldplay and The Beach Boys to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack.
While the band performs at events such as Australia Day, the Mudgeeraba Show and ANZAC Day, Noel says band members “have the view that we’re here to improve and play a bit better.”
“Music is a great outlet, and you make lifetime friends from it,” said Noel, who plays the euphonium.
“Euphoniums are played in big bands such as military bands alongside an assortment of saxophone, trumpet and brass players.
“It’s a big instrument that belongs to the band because nobody could afford to buy them.”
Not only does Noel enjoy playing the euphonium, he is also experienced at playing saxophone, trumpet and clarinet.
Noel began playing musical instruments as a 12-year-old living in Palmerston North in New Zealand. He continued with music when he moved to Mount Morgan in Queensland in 1949 to work in the mining industry, at the age of 21.
“I played in a dance band in Mount Morgan with a couple of good musicians there. We were a trio. The thing about being in a small town is you can’t have a big band because there’s not enough people to play,” Noel said.
Noel gave up playing music when he and his wife moved to the Gold Coast as he couldn’t find a community band to play in.
“When we moved here the population of Mudgeeraba was about 37 people,” he said.
Noel recently moved to the Carinity Cedarbrook aged care community where he says his care and lifestyle is “remarkably good”.
“I’ve been here three months and it’s a lovely place. I have a big room and everything you could wish for. The food is magnificent too,” Noel said.
Noel says he is as “fit as a fiddle” because he exercises regularly – taking two or three half-hour walks each day – to “set a good example for others”.