Postcards from Byron: Emma Ashmere shares her musical memories

Our Postcards from Byron series this week features Byron Shire author Emma Ashmere, sharing with us the solace of strumming away on her guitar, and the power that music can have on our memory and contentment.

Emma Ashmere’s guitar

Hello Readers and Writers,

I’m writing not far from where the Festival usually is.

Over the last few weeks I’ve taken up the guitar again – a balm and an antidote. And I’ve been thinking of my two sisters who both trained as health workers. They’re also very musical.

Every morning as kids, they’d rush to grab the rickety piano stool first. Over time, Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata gave way to Carole King, Elton John, with a dash of Fats Waller.

I didn’t inherit the piano-playing gene, although there was a brief stab at the violin. I’d saw away at Au clair de la Lune in the Adelaide February heat, squinting (pre-myopia diagnosis) at the purple-inked roneo-ed slightly heady sheet music wilting in an opened drawer, while my sisters sailed on to cello and guitar.

I liked my school-loan violin more than playing it – the black case with its faux velvet innards, and the plasticky-amber lump nestled in its own compartment. I’d unwrap it from its dusty cloth, apply it to the bow, hoping the horsehair wasn’t really horsehair. Nobody seemed to mind when I returned the violin to the school.

I’ve also been watching videos of musicians serenading from their balconies, and health workers dancing.

Music isn’t my forte, but I strum vague chords on an old guitar, accompanied by the high chorus of parakeets and the bass notes of the elusive pheasant’s boom, and discover an hour has passed.

Here’s to musicians and health workers everywhere.

About Emma Ashmere

Emma Ashmere’s new short story collection Dreams They Forgot will be published in September by Wakefield Press. Her novel The Floating Garden is available to purchase here from The Book Room at Byron (free same-day delivery within the Byron Shire). Read more about Ashmere here.



With thanks

These projects are supported by our friends at the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, who are generously funding participation fees for Australian authors, allowing us to re-imagine the 2020 Festival program. Please stay tuned for further news. Thanks also to our long-term funding partner, Create NSW.

Byron Writers Festival