CDs are on sale at Khans Music World and Rhyners
Piarco Airport or Augustus can be contact at his home, 633-0406.
Sheldon J Yearwood
Walking past Manning Street, Diego Martin, one may hear
piano music coming from the hills.
The sounds are the graceful styles of Norman Augustus, 66.
He is best known from his days in the real estate business,
from which he is now semi-retired. Over the last four years
he has dedicated his life to his first love, music.
In 2001 he recorded his first volume of songs, Piano Medleys
for All Times. He has brought out a volume every year since
then. His fourth, with the same title, is a 14-track album
ranging from waltz to calypso and fox-trot. Most of the
songs recorded are classic hits from the 40s and 50s.
Sitting in his home he spoke with precision and poise. He
was obviously very passionate about his music as he sat
behind his piano lightly fingering the keys for a brief
After his interlude he related his musical journey.
Growing up in Palo Seco, he was born into a musical family
and started playing the piano at the age of six.
was always a piano at our home and we also had a family
band. The band forged a great bond amongst us and we were
a happy family. Every opportunity I got I would tinkle on
the keys as a little boy.
One year later he had his first public performance broadcast
on Radio Trinidad in 1947.
His father John Cyril Augustus, who was also a pianist,
seeing he had a special gift took him to renowned southern
bandleader Nello Braithwaite, who took him under his wing.
He learnt to play the instrument by ear.
Both his father and Braithwaite were employees of Trinidad
Petroleum Development Co Ltd, nestled in the heart of Santa
Flora. Every lunch hour on Mondays and Thursdays he would
practise with Braithwaite on the camp (beach camp, where
After an hours practise each week for five years,
he perfected the skill of playing piano by ear.
In 1949 he went to school at St Marys College where
he was a boarder at his aunts home on Flament Street,
At this juncture he decided to pursue classical music.
father encouraged me to pursue classical music, thus broadening
my horizons as a musician. I can learn tunes from reading
music and do my own thing by ear after.
While at St Marys he went under the tutelage of J
Donald Greaves, of St Vincent Street (opposite the then
Empire cinema), who was also his fathers tutor, before
moving on to Milicent Roberts of Carlos Street, Woodbrook,
where he spent six years. Augustus was taught up to grade
seven out of eight by Roberts.
He recalls practising from 5 am as he gradually rose from
grade one to seven.
When he left St Marys at 18, his focus was shifted
to the field of work at TPD in Palo Seco; he was unable
to continue classes.
But his love for music was always there as he kept on playing
in small functions and family gatherings.
the piano or performing, for that matter, was not a money-making
venture but a pursuit undertaken for the love of it.
His first shy at recording came upon the advice of his father
and wife in the late 1970s.
Augustus made an audiotape using only a microphone and a
home cassette recorder. Now he has in his home, a Clavinova,
a digital piano which aids in giving the high-quality sound
that can be heard on his CDs.
50 years or more I now have the time, experience and a proper
instrument to record. Its a part of me I would never
trade for anything.
At this stage he cannot say if he will produce any more
music, but if inspiration strikes, who knows.
Sadly, he believes, music in T&T is losing its creativity
and the few who are trying to bring forth the melody again
are being stifled.
are a few composers and pianists who have done well, but
the vast majority I cannot seem to absorb. You do not hear
the chords and the melody anymore, nothing soft and sweet.
The lyrics, well, I am disappointed.
Augustus hopes the melodies would encourage the younger
generation to play a musical instrument especially those
who have the gift to develop and parents who would have
the discipline and commitment at practice sessions to listen
with an attentive ear.
discipline which my parents instilled in me over the years
prepared me for life and the trials it may bring. It would
bring me great joy if I can help the less fortunate learn
to play the piano or any other musical instrument for that
matter. This is my contribution in reclaiming so many lost
youths in our country.