Les Peterkin writes: I remember Maria von Trapp on the 4th E-Course in Rabaul, which ran from April to September 1963. I had been seconded from ASOPA to lecture in Physical Education and Music on that program. Maria was a quiet and unassuming lady but, to everyone's delight and enjoyment, she was a brilliant recorder player. I more or less put her in charge of teaching the recorder to the rest of the students.
Much of the music course was designed to impart to students suitable folk and camp songs which they could teach in the schools. One of these was ‘Do Lord, Oh do Lord, Oh do remember me!’ Most of you will recall these songs from ASOPA days. We also taught local traditional songs and songs in pidgin like ‘Lik lik kanu’.
After we taught the songs to the school kids they would go home and teach their parents. The New Guinea Islands people are fantastic singers and I was greatly thrilled towards the end of my stay in Rabaul when a two-ton truck full of people drove by on the way to Saturday morning market with all on board singing ‘Do Lord’ in full voice.
I was also given to task of training the Malaguna Boys Technical School choir for the big choral festival held each year. That's a great memory: a hundred boys singing in perfect pitch and four part harmony. I taught ‘Jamaica Farewell’, having to write it on the blackboard in Solfa with the boys singing by numbers – the same way the missions taught singing. Can you believe it?