Tawa music teacher takes a bow ‘‘
She may have entered retirement but Shona Murray insists ‘‘there will always be something to do’’ for someone so intrinsically involved in Tawa’s music scene.
Tawa College’s head of music from 1984-2005 came full circle with her career by spending the last few years as an assistant music teacher at the school, primarily involved with the Dawn Chorus and school productions.
She retired on November 30 with a well-attended farewell.
Mrs Murray says it will feel strange come the start of term 1, next year.
‘‘I think it will hit me in February, when I don’t have to go up to teach a class or go to choir.
‘‘It’s going to suddenly seem real,’’ she says.
The transition from teaching five year olds at Tawa Primary to music, English and home economics at Tawa College in 1977 was a shock to the system, but one she embraced.
Under her stewardship, the choir flourished and music at the school earned a formidable reputation nationally and overseas.
Modestly, Mrs Murray has a host of people to thank, from mentors to successive principals – including her husband Bruce, from 1989 to 2002 – and countless staff members during her tenure.
The shows, festivals and awards gathered have been something of immense pride for her.
‘‘I think we created an atmosphere [at Tawa College] where everyone belonged and there is a strong philosophy around role
Shona Murray modelling.
‘‘ There are so many success stories – we had a former knifewielding thug as a student and he came back 15 years later to say ‘thank you for changing my life’.
‘‘Those are the things you work for.’’
Mrs Murray says being involved in national examinations and competitions, and steering the New Zealand Secondary Schools Choir for 10 years, was valuable for her own development in music.
‘‘I was based in Tawa but it always felt I had a wider scope, and that was especially because of the community involvement as well.
‘‘I saw myself as like a village schoolmaster.’’
With the advent of the hugely popular Big Sing event, Mrs Murray says choruses have increased in size from 15 – the number she attracted when starting the Dawn Chorus in 1982 – to there being hundreds on stage.
It was a huge change, but the school embraced it.
She is happy to be leaving the college in good heart and considers it ‘‘ an honour’’ to be replaced by an ex-student, Isaac Stone.
‘‘You might think that’s narrow or insular but everyone involved in teaching music at the college has an international profile.
‘‘ They’re wonderful and creative,’’ she says.
Mrs Murray will be available for relief teaching at the school and hopes to remain an accompanist for Trust Porirua City Brass band.
There are no plans to take a permanent step back yet.
‘‘Bruce pointed out recently that you can only do sport for so long but you can sing when you’re 80,’’ Mrs Murray says.
‘‘ That’s probably me.’’
Pitch perfect: Whether it’s piano accompaniment, orchestra music or choir, Shona Murray’s service and commitment to music in Tawa is immense.