Spirits soar as children’s entertainer pays a visit

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
The students weren't the only ones singing along to Peter Combe's songs, with the teachers also enjoying the concert.
Camera IconThe students weren't the only ones singing along to Peter Combe's songs, with the teachers also enjoying the concert. Credit: Francesca Mann, The Geraldton Guardian

Australian children’s entertainer and musician Peter Combe paid a visit to St John’s School in Rangeway and Mt Tarcoola Primary School.

More than 350 students from St John’s, Rangeway Primary School and St Mary’s School, Northampton, filled the St John’s hall in the morning for an hour-long concert last week.

The appearance of the consummate entertainer began on a whim, when St John’s School music teacher Lauren Hewitson sent a message to Combe via social media and asked him to play in Geraldton.

It wasn’t long before local businesses jumped on board.

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Jacqui Correy, of Bloom Wellness and Wisdom, sponsored Mr Combe’s return flights and Alex Stellmach, of Best Western Hospitality Inn, provided accommodation.

“It was a big community event,” Ms Hewitson said.

“I wasn’t sure if the kids or the teachers were more excited.

“When I was at school in Mt Tarcoola, we listened to his songs all the time, and in my classes we listen to his songs.

“Hearing them on a CD is all well and good, but it’s more inspiring to have them in person.” Combe’s music career spans four decades and he has won the ARIA Award for best children’s album three times.

During the school visit, Mr Combe performed many of his well-known songs, including Spaghetti Bolognaise, Newspaper Mama, and Mr Clicketty Cane.

Despite most of the songs coming out in the 1980s and 90s, the children danced and sang along.

“It’s touching that everyone knows my songs,” Combe said.

“Music is timeless and it feeds the soul.

“You can’t ever describe it, but it makes people happy, which is important in a world with a lot of unhappiness.

“It’s important to see people (play) live — it shows them it’s possible to do it.

“Kids see so much on a screen and when they see me perform, they’re like ‘Oh my God, he’s there’.”

During the concert, Combe invited a student to the stage, handed her a red balloon and got her to perform the actions in the song Red Balloon.

The students were also quizzed about how many countries were mentioned during Quirky Beserkey (The Turkey from Turkey).

Combe said children’s music was a great learning tool.

“Music is as important as literature,” he said.

“The sad thing is mainstream media regards children’s literature more than children’s music.

“Music has lyrics and can be attached to other subject areas.

“And if children can sing, it gives them confidence.” While Combe was in WA, he also performed at the Fringe World Festival in Perth.

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