Music is good for the soul regardless of your age and one Tauranga retirement village performer has been busy sharing the love. When it comes to melodies Dennis Sealey knows his notes and has spent more than 80 years learning to play an array of instruments and even though he has glaucoma that has not stopped him from entertaining.

Music has helped Dennis Sealey through the good times and the bad including failing eyesight and sorrow.

The 87-year-old has been playing the piano, keyboard, mandolin, guitar, clarinet, cornet, trumpet and saxophone for eight decades. He has performed a solo in front of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and played in numerous brass and social bands.

Today he still jams with the Pāpāmoa and Mount Maunganui Country Music Clubs and likes to entertain fellow Metlifecare's Bayswater village residents - despite having just 10 per cent of his vision and glaucoma.


Sealey said he relied on his memory and playing by ear to remember tunes and liked a wide range of music including everything from classical to jazz, old-time and country.

His musical journey started as a youngster with piano lessons and snowballed after he was invited to learn a wind instrument and join the Te Aroha Brass Band.

The former mechanical engineer ended up on stage in front of royalty during a stint in the army where he ended up in the military band.

Dennis Sealey plays saxophone

''The band played for the royal visit in 1953 at Hamilton and I was asked to do a solo on the cornet. It was a bit scary and the Queen never took her eyes off me.''

But Sealey also credited his music for getting him through a tough part of his life.

His first wife Jean died aged 36 after a long, hard battle with cancer leaving him with four young children.

''My music was very helpful through those difficult times and was a great source of support. When I was getting down in the dumps I would play one of my instruments.''

Luckily Sealey found happiness again when he was re-married three years later to Noeline who had seven children.

He says music was a major part of his life ''and has kept me young''.

The saxophone is just one of the instruments Dennis Sealey plays. Photo / Andrew Warner.
The saxophone is just one of the instruments Dennis Sealey plays. Photo / Andrew Warner.

''I really love playing music and it is a great way to meet people. I've made some very good friends.''

Ironically he said his old band The Silvertones used to play at retirement villages, rest homes, hospitals and charity functions, so when he moved into Bayswater the opportunity to entertain was too good to refuse.

Metlifecare Bay of Plenty social and regional events co-ordinator Samantha Martin said music was timeless and ageless.

''The residents at Bayswater love their music. It can lift the spirit and heal the heart. It enables us to live in the moment and connects us together with unseen threads. It's important for all ages .''

- May is NZ Music Month. This year people are being encouraged to discover live, homegrown Kiwi musicians.