Recorded Music New Zealand today announces the three finalists for the inaugural Music Teacher of the Year Tui, with each being recognised for their incredible impact on their students and the local community.
Elizabeth Sneyd from Porirua’s Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust, Jane Egan from Gisborne Girls High School and Music Learning Centre Ltd and Judith Bell from Christchurch’s Chisnallwood Intermediate School are the three finalists chosen from 220 submissions across New Zealand.
Free music programmes are her mission
Elizabeth Sneyd founded the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust in 2013 and has provided free music programmes to over 200 young people in the East Porirua community. She believes music education can transform lives and provides a tight-knit group for students to support each other.
All Virtuoso Strings music programmes are free for participation, which removes barriers and provides meaningful opportunities for both experienced and beginner students.
Twice a year Elizabeth organises orchestra trips around New Zealand for students as part of the extensive programme developed to give Porirua youth the chance to perform for crowds across the country. This is in addition to the hundreds of concerts she organises locally and in Wellington.
“Teaching for me is about persuading others to teach themselves. It’s about giving youth a space to relax, explore and experiment. I can only guide my students; the rest is up to them,” said Elizabeth.
“I tell my students not to dwell on any perceived failure but to keep their eye firmly on the life goals they set for themselves. I explain to them that if they never lose sight of these goals they will eventually realise them. I explain that not everybody learns in the same way or has the same pathway but that a positive mindset is the greatest attribute of all.”
Authentic learning experiences
Jane Egan dedicates herself to the students at Gisborne Girls High School, exposing them to authentic learning experiences in music and creating opportunities that might not otherwise be readily available to local students.
As Head of Department, she provides students with the chance to work with and learn from local musicians, encouraging the students to get involved with music at an extracurricular level.
In 2018 alone, Gisborne Girls High School has seen development of 12 Rockquest bands, eight Tangata Beats Bands and 15 entries in Rockquest Solo/Duo. There has also been two choirs, an orchestra, six chamber groups and a ukulele group.
“I think music is one of the subjects where you see the greatest connection between student and teacher. We are privileged and trusted with songwriters inner most thoughts, and we get to work with students when they are at their most vulnerable, pushing them through the performance anxiety barrier,” said Jane.
“We watch students’ transformation from shy and unsure of their ability, to passionate, confident individuals who bring songs, music and genius to the world. The music room is where magic happens.”
Longstanding music leader in her field
The third finalist, Judith Bell, has led the development of the music program at Chisnallwood Intermediate School for the last 20 years. During this time, the program has grown from only five teachers in one teaching room with about 25 students to a purpose-built performing arts block with 16 teachers and over 200 students learning the intricacies of reading, writing and perfoming music.
In her role as music lead at Chisnallwood, Judith has become involved with a number of other music education organisations in Christchurch. She is the president of Music Education Canterbury where she liaises with organisations such as the University of Canterbury, Ara Music Arts and the Christchurch School of Music. She is also on the board of Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa.
“The goal of the music programme I have developed at Chisnallwood Intermediate is to give students opportunities that will prepare them well for high school and life-long learning, for both recreation and profession in the field of music,” said Judith.
“The 10 to 13 age group is a vital time for learning and social development. At this period of growth, it can be a lonely time. But having music and comradery with other passionate musicians can turn this into some of their most successful, happy years and positively impact all their school study.”
Recorded Music New Zealand CEO Damian Vaughan said it was an honour to recognise the impact music teachers have on the lives of their students.
“Almost everyone has a memory of their music teacher, regardless of whether they went on to become a musician. The impact they have on our lives needs to be celebrated,” Said Vaughan.
“The team at Recorded Music New Zealand are thrilled to initiate the inaugural Music Teacher of the Year Award and recognise these three spectacular teachers as finalists.”
The 2018 Music Teacher of the Year will be announced in November.