Empowering others with music at Ambridge Rose

Empowering others with music at ambridge rose

Empowering Others with Music

The power of music is undeniable, from connecting a group of strangers to stirring wonderful memories associated with a particular tune.

Amrita at The Cottage has lived music, embracing it to break down barriers, boost the confidence of others and challenge stereotypes. Her husband, Martin, says: “Amrita has always been a rebel and that’s what I love about her.”
When Amrita was five years old, she started learning piano and when she passed the practical but failed her theory exam by two marks, her father was devastated and stopped her lessons. However, Amrita’s mother encouraged her to continue playing piano.

The youngster worshipped her older brother and when he played LPs with his mates she stood outside his door and listened to the music. Amrita absorbed the melodies and taught herself the new tunes on the family piano, which developed her ear.

Her mother broached the subject of returning to music lessons with Amrita’s father and the youngster was given another chance, for which Martin is eternally grateful. Amrita grew up during South Africa’s apartheid era and went to an Indian girl’s school where she became a music monitor. She challenged the traditions and when playing the formal school songs, she’d slip in the latest pop music before teachers noticed what was going on.

Amrita met her future husband, Martin, when he was acting in a children’s western play. The director remembered Amrita from her rebellious school days and Amrita was brought at the last minute to play piano.

“She just wowed us and added that zing to the western music. I don’t have a sense of timing and when Amrita identified my problem, she kept me in for extra rehearsals. She must have thought I was a lost cause.”

Martin was the stage manager and Amrita was almost always late, and when he ticked her off – she wasn’t bothered. Amrita walked in, smiled, and greeted everybody, and left Martin exasperated.

“Musicians have an almost spiritual connection with their instruments. After the last show Amrita sat at the piano playing a piece that wasn’t from the show. She was deep into it I asked her if it was for me, but she said: ‘No. I’m playing it for the piano.’”

When teaching at a South African school her music teacher role was stopped so she started a choir with a mixture of kids, including African and Indian children. Amrita always stuck up for the underdog and did whatever it took to include everyone, even those with little musical talent as long as they were loyal and committed.

Woman conducting children playing music
Amrita conducting children playing music.

Amrita’s musical calling took her around the world, and she still loves pianos and keyboards. When she sees something like a grand piano she comes to life. She always tried to find cultural pieces to encourage everyone to sing, for example, Pōkarekare Ana and she had a bag of rākau (sticks) in the car that she used to get people playing to music.


Through Dementia Auckland and The University of Auckland’s CeleBRation Choir, Amrita played piano, sang and danced with people from diverse backgrounds.

At The Cottage, Amrita knows her friend Mary likes The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond and the pair often break out in song together. Amrita’s ability to connect with people through music continues and she still enjoys a little bit of goodhearted rebellion.