Tawa mu­sic teacher takes a bow ‘‘

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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