Lifestyle The Arts Rusty To Beautiful Music
Rusty To Beautiful Music
Written by Jan Hallam


A good many doctors will have memories, fond or otherwise, of playing a musical instrument during their school days. For a number of them still, the joy of playing either solo or in a group is intrinsic to their mental wellbeing after the rigours clinical practice.

The Australian Doctors Orchestra has been active for nearly two decades giving doctors the opportunity both locally and nationally to keep their skills alive.

However, there are a number of other outlets in WA for amateur musicians to keep their musical ear tuned in. The WA Symphony Orchestra next month will mentor musicians including some doctors in its Rusty Orchestra program.

Once participants have been through a selection process, repertoire selected and disseminated, players buddy up with a member of WASO in preparation for an hour-long performance on June 24 at the Perth Concert Hall.

Perth psychiatrist Dr Lynne Cunningham will be playing on violin at her second Rusty Orchestra concert this year. Her debut at last year’s concert was a game-changer for Lynne where she met violinist Jane Serrangeli.

“At last year’s Rusty Orchestra I sat next to Jane, who plays second violin in WASO. I had just lost my violin teacher because his wife was very ill, so I asked Jane if she could give me lessons. It’s been excellent. She’s changed my technique and made a huge difference to my sound. She has been very positive,” she said.

“Playing with WASO is another experience altogether it’s fantastic.  The standard of professional playing is way above anything I’ve ever done, it’s a great privilege to play with the professionals. But they are so helpful and nice. Last year Jane gave me tips as we went along.”

Lynne, like many doctors, learnt an instrument at school. In her case, it was the flute but once she left school, music making dropped away. When she turned 40 the then radiologist decided to take up the violin because, she said, the repertoire for the flute was limited.

She’s made up for lost time in the past 20 years, now playing at any opportunity she can get.

“I play with the Fremantle and Metropolitan (MetSo) symphony orchestras and I’ve been in the Doctors Orchestra since 2013.”

The Rusty Orchestra has people from all walks of life and seems like a lot of fun, but that’s not to say there isn’t a little pressure. Players work on the scores in the lead-up to the first rehearsal a couple of weeks away from the concert, then a rehearsal the day of the concert and then the performance when everyone will have their game-face on.

As Lynne says, “you have to do your homework,” but that’s not to say it’s ever a chore.

“I have always had music in my life. It’s been a real life saver for me in lots of ways and something I really enjoy doing and I have met so many fantastic people through music.”

About 15 years ago, Lynne retrained as a psychiatrist and works two days a week at a private clinic.

“I still don’t have enough time to do the music I want to do but I love my work too. I don’t want to retire. I love the contact and talking to people.”