When Nick Grew noticed parents waiting around while their kids were at the Whangārei Sistema music programme, a light bulb went on in his head.

"Wouldn't it be great if there was more of a shared creativity between them?" he thought.

And so the Whānau Philharmonic - a project where parents can learn instruments with help from the children - was born.

Grew, Whangārei Girls' High School's head of music and Sistema board member, has two kids who attend Sistema and noticed parents - just due to the circumstances - waiting around while their kids were learning.


"I sensed there was a disconnect between what the children were experiencing in the next door room - which is some pretty amazing transformational stuff."

Sistema Whangārei entertain Cairnfield House residents
Whangarei Sistema-style music project granted $40,000

Grew thought it would be great if the parents could be involved too, so he approached Sistema and suggested starting what he named the Whānau Philharmonic.

"They thought that's a really cool idea so we had to work out the best day to do it. We came up with Thursday evening and we've put the word out to Sistema whānau and generated a lot of interest."

During the most recent school holidays Sistema held a session so whānau could try it out.

"What's come from this is that the Whānau Philharmonic is really an opportunity to allow emerging leaders to step up and have a go at teaching the parents how to play the instrument. So it's really cool."

Dad Kendon Fidler gets tips on how to play from his daughter Charlotte Fidler, 9. Photo / Tania Whyte
Dad Kendon Fidler gets tips on how to play from his daughter Charlotte Fidler, 9. Photo / Tania Whyte

Howard Tahana went along with his son Vadim Fong, 13, for the first time last week and said he "really enjoyed it".

"I thought it was quite good. It would be good if more parents went. It was my first time and I thought 'do I really want to go?' but I finished work early so I thought I may as well, and then I enjoyed myself," he said.


Tahana said Vadim has been attending Sistema for about a year and a half and said his skills are not only developing, he's also more confident.

"It's built his confidence up a lot more. He's a lot more confident talking in front of people, and with him being up the front and teaching everybody (at the Whānau Philharmonic) it showed how confident he'd become."

Grew said the Whānau Philharmonic will perform at Sistema's end of year show on November 14.

At the concert Sistema will be fundraising to hire a professional luthier - someone who repairs instruments - to train up parents to be able do simple repairs.