Jennie ‘accidentally’ started teaching piano
She calls herself an ‘‘accidental’’ piano teacher, but it took more than good luck for Jennie Coleman to become an Associate of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers.
The organisation of professional music teachers invites teachers to undertake the rigorous process to join. They are required to submit lengthy (up to 20 page) applications, referees and other evidence of their abilities.
Coleman has been named an associate as a teacher of piano, theory and advanced theory and is the only associate in Queenstown.
She says it is validating.
‘‘It’s an affirmation by a long standing and highly respected professional body that I am worthy of their membership.’’
However, it is a long way from the girl on the Canterbury farm who spent her days hollering at dogs in the back paddocks.
Coleman grew up with music, getting a degree from Otago University before heading to London where she did a Masters in ethnomusicology.
It was while living in Kent that she first stumbled into teaching piano, including teaching a young Daniel Grimwood, now a concert pianist.
‘‘I didn’t intend to become the village piano teacher. I did everything I could to demolish the image.’’
She dressed differently, insisted children called her by her first name and let her labrador sleep under the piano.
Coleman returned to New Zealand with her husband and young son but was widowed shortly after. She taught and studied in Dunedin before moving to Queenstown four-anda-half years ago.
Now she has more than 30 students, aged from five to 84 being taught on the first Palatino Grand piano to arrive in New Zealand.
The magnificent instrument, kept from the sun when curtains are drawn and touched only by gloved hands, would cost more than $43,000 to replace, she says.
She also does some language teaching as well as editing and proof reading academic work. It was only when she was approached via fellow music teachers in Cromwell and Alexandra to apply to join the institute, that she gave it a go.
‘‘I’m as passionate about teaching as I am about music, and combining music and teaching is powerful.’’
Queenstown music teacher Jennie Coleman with the first Palatino Grand in New Zealand.